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A Healthy Dose of Political Reality and Dial Switching

Just about every person standing behind Mitt Romney was white. In contrast, the people standing behind President Obama were a diverse group with a high percentage of minorities. The reporters and analysts didn’t mention that. But those images spoke louder than words and may have a say on who wins the Presidency tonight or Wednesday morning.

Those words were near the end of Tuesday morning’s blog. My observation concerning the people standing behind the presidential candidates at rallies foreshadowed the big story Tuesday night when President Obama was re-elected.

Analyst after analyst Tuesday concluded that Gov. Romney lost because the Republican Party is just too white and hasn’t learned the importance of attracting the increasing population of Latinos and other minorities.

Chuck Todd

CNN’s David Gergen, who has worked for presidents in both parties, may have put it best after an Obama victory was clear. “It is extremely unhealthy for the country to have a Republican party that relies on whites for 90 percent of the vote,” said Gergen.

It was a theme that was also picked up by ABC’s Matthew Dowd, who used to work on Republican campaigns and was one of the best analysts Tuesday night.

Election Night was a night for a healthy dose of dial switching and political reality. The switching did make things a little more confusing since each network seemed to have a different Electoral College count and was declaring victory in different states at different times. NBC was the first to declare President Obama was re-elected, ABC was the last to declare him the winner.  

I ended up watching more of CNN than any other broadcast or cable network because it seemed to do the most thorough job.

For all the speculation that America might not know who would be President until Wednesday morning or later, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer noted the President was projected to be the winner only 18 minutes later than he was in 2008 when he was first elected. And CNN was several minutes later in calling it than NBC. Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate, switched to its network in time to catch the announcement while rivals Channel 4 and Channel 7 were staying with local news and waiting for their networks to call it.

The writing was on the wall more than an hour earlier when CNN’s Republican pundit, Alex Castellanos, looked at what was happening in Ohio and other swing states and said: “My silent majority hope is not there. It is not only silent but invisible. It is very tough for Mitt Romney… This is not going to be a loss just for Mitt Romney. This is going to be a repudiation of the Republican Party.”

David Gergen

 It was like listening to the late Dandy Don Meredith sing “turn out the lights, the parties over.”

Of course, the party lasted for a few more hours before Romney conceded, made a brief concession speech that analysts called “gracious” and the President followed with a speech that got positive reviews as well.

If you lost sleep, blame Fox’s Karl Rove, who apparently convinced the Romney camp that Ohio hadn’t been lost for an extra hour or so.

I was half expecting Ed Gillespie, a Romney strategist, to get back on TV and say he was still optimistic. Starting in the afternoon, Gillespie was constantly saying how well things were going for Romney. It got to the point that you wondered if he thought saying it would make it true.

The delay in Romney’s concession meant the nets had to filibuster waiting for his speech and that led to one entertaining slam by NBC’s Brian Williams aimed at Donald Trump. Williams said The Donald “has driven well past the last exit to relevance and veered into something closer to irresponsible” before he read some of Trump’s Limbaugh-like and Hannity-like tweets.

No argument here. It was notable that Williams was embarrassing the guy who hosts one of NBC’s few demographic hits — “The Apprentice.” The network anchor is safe since “Nightly News” is No.1 .But you do have to wonder how much more NBC can take of Trump before someone has to guts to tell him “you’re fired.”     

Without further ado, let’s fire up some more things that struck me over the seven hours of coverage that ended for me at 2 a.m. That’s why this blog was slightly delayed. Blame Karl Rove.

The Winner Is Nate Silver: If anyone’s reputation was on the line, it was the New York Times’ Nate Silver, who predicted on his 538 blog that President Obama had a 90 percent chance of winning and would get more than 300 Electoral College votes. Silver has become a TV star, appearing on “The Colbert Report” on Monday. He is a bigger star now because he was so accurate. At one point, I read he had accurately predicted the winner in 44 of 44 states. Silver made his projections based on a collection of state and national polls, almost all of which turned out to be more accurate than many people could have expected.

Team Obama Has Better Ground Game Than the Bills: At least it used its ground game better. You also knew that Romney was in deep trouble when ABC’s Republican analyst Nicolle Wallace said her Florida sources conceded they underestimated Team Obama’s ground game. The ground game was mentioned so often it could have been a beer pong game for college students.

What Enthusiasm Gap? As I had suggested Tuesday, my anecdotal evidence from teaching at two colleges was that young people were going to be engaged and those stories suggesting enthusiasm for Obama wouldn’t be as high as it was in 2008 was going to be wrong. According to early exit polls, young voters showed up at the polls.

Math Major: NBC’s Williams noted that the President’s camp won with “a scientific approach” that used math. In other words, as President Clinton suggested in his convention speech lambasting Romney’s economic plans, good arithmetic is important.  

Inspiring Talk: PBS’ David Brooks, a conservative New York Times columnist, labeled the Obama win as “not inspiring but a tenacious victory.”

Words of the Day: Reluctant to call races as quickly in the past, CBS noted when states were “leaning to President Obama.” All the leaners ended up being accurate. CNN used the word “estimated” in declaring states. All the estimates proved accurate, too. NBC’s Chuck Todd noted the network was going to be a little extra “cautious” in calling races. That was true. He was able to show viewers that things looked good for the President in Florida and Ohio when he was ahead because most of the votes that hadn’t been counted were in heavily Democratic areas. Similarly, CNN’s John King was terrific in showing that Obama was likely to win key states without declaring victory.

Traffic Report: NBC’s David Gregory used a baseball reference to note that Team Obama sent President Clinton to a state where the President might have been vulnerable. Gregory called Clinton the Mariano Rivera of Team Obama. He saved Pennsylvania. 

Fox Report: Around 7:30 p.m., Fox’s Brit Hume noted that conditions in America made it easier for a challenger against President Obama, but he added the president was considered a hero and a historic figure when he won in 2008. “A great number of people don’t want to let go of that,” said Hume. He added that didn’t necessarily mean Obama was going to win but you got the sense Hume was preparing Fox for the possibility.

Traffic Report: CBS’ Bob Schieffer questioned Romney’s visit to Cleveland on Election Day, noting that it was a heavily Democratic area. “Maybe he was trying to tie up traffic to keep Democrats from voting there,” cracked Schieffer.

All Politics Is Local But… I know the Kathy Hochul-Chris Collins congressional race was very important to local viewers. However, I usually found it so distracting when the networks gave the local news teams a few minutes each hour that I often just turned to the cable channels to see what was up with the more compelling presidential race. I did switch to local news twice to see Channel 4’s Luke Moretti go to a Williamsville restaurant to get the opinions on the presidential race from a young white female, an older white businessman and a middle-aged white woman. If he found any person of color there I missed it. Someone should tell Channel 4 that Williamsville isn’t the go-to-place to find the diverse audience that votes. By going there to find opinions about the presidential race, Channel 4 looked as clueless as Gergen and other analysts thought the Republican Party looked.



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20 responses to "A Healthy Dose of Political Reality and Dial Switching"

  1. Tina says:

    Karl Rove made a fool of himself last night. They were and still are grasping at straws and I only turned on Fox to see just what I expected. It looked like a morgue and everyone from Bret to Megyn looked liked they were in shock and in denial until the very end. It’s time to wake up Fox and Friends… no one is buying what you are trying to sell. Get over it.

    • alanp says:

      Actually a lot of people buy what Fox News is selling. It is the most popular cable news channel nationally and in WNY.

      • Carl says:

        But when put up against ANY national newscast-even the lowest rated one- it gets DESTROYED in terms of viewers. And they only have 30 minutes minus commercials to do the news.

    • ds says:

      Actually, the reporters for Fox News were just as stunned, confused, and amused by Rove’s predictions as everyone else was.

      And the big three networks didn’t really hide their pro-Obama stance.

  2. Steve says:

    You two should be companions…really what exactly is Fox selling? You both know better than the gerneral public? You elevate yourselves above the masses. Please let me bow to you both like our fearless leader likes to do. Alan its comments like you made at the begining that keeps the racial devide alive in the US. There always needs to be some explanation why there is a loss. It must be racial. Its the DEM way. Let’s see if there is any news coverage about the Black Panther activities in Philly yesterday…I’m sure it won’t be on NBC or MSNBC. The press played a pathetic role in this election. Their over the top support of Obama was and remains sickening. Alan as a professor of media, if you don’t see it, I would resign your position today!

    • Carl says:

      You mean standing outside another polling place and looking like damned fools in the process, Steve? This was a non-story in 2008, and it will be a non-story now.

      BTW, Steve…go ahead and look at all of the data of which groups of people voted for which candidate, and then say what you said again. And since you’re still recovering from Romney’s loss, I’ll leave it at that.

      • Steve says:

        Of course it was a non-story by the liberal press in 2008 and again this year. You are confirming my thoughts. Don’t worry about me recoving Mr. Carl. What you need to worry about is your liberal party’s exsistence after Obama further destroys our economy. You think he can still get away with blaming it on Bush? Of course he can, he’s got the press in his pocket.

  3. Doug says:

    But Steve, don’t the superior ratings of FOX news cancel out the left wing bias to some extent?

    • Steve says:

      Doug…hardly. When you have NBC with the news, Today show and Meet the Press their combined ratings are far superior and that just one outlet. Didn’t you notice the giddiness between Williams and Todd last night. I wanted to throw-up. Obama has the media to thank in this election win. Nothing he did helped in the victory. Maybe Alan can read some reverse racism into that statement.

  4. Rob says:

    One station (Fox News) despite its high ratings hardly trumps MSNBC, CBS, NBC etc. Whatever, it is what it is; until the GOP does a better job at marketing their brand (something the Democrats are way better at) then you will continue to have candidates like Romney and the results of last night.

    Funny thing is after the billions spent and all the hours of babble by the cable news outlets its all the same today as it was the past two years; Obama and a GOP controlled Congress

  5. Doug says:

    Steve, I cant disagree with you, the media does sway left. One thing Brian Williams said struck me. He was saying what a waste of money it was to have all these political commercials and how the money could be better spent. That is a liberal comment.

    The fact is, the Republicans believe, and as Mitt himself stated, corporations are people, and people have free speech, in fact the conservatives on the supreme court agreed with them. That is why there is so much anonymous corporate money buying elections these days.

    As a liberal myself, I believe in campaign finance reform, so I agree with Williams, nonetheless, his opinion was biased.

    • Steve says:

      Doug…you know he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. Who benefits from all that spending? The owners of TV stations and Networks. Basically the people who pay him. I would love to see his his tax return to see what good causes and actions he takes with his very high income. There are so many rich liberals who could do more but they want the government to do it. Just dont take too much from me…I’ll advocate the government take care of you. Can you say Micheal Moore?

    • DS says:

      You do realize that the “Corporations are People” has to do with Citizens Untied vs the FEC and the seemingly random application of McCain–Feingold Act, and the “so much anonymous corporate money buying elections these days” is a result of this bad legislation that both sides of the fence benefit from.

  6. Doug says:

    Youre right about that Steve, I agree with you.

  7. What enthusiasm gap, you ask? Well, for once, Obama lost 10 million votes (about 1 in 7) compared to 2008. He still won because, for reasons totally unknown despite apparently strong enthusiasm, Romney managed to lose 2 million votes from the utterly underwhelming John McCain.

    How? Well, Sarah Palin’s absence may have hurt, but OTOH, Paul Ryan was a much more solid pick for VP anyway. There are rumblings about the evangelicals sitting out.

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