Politics & Polls #6: Does Election Media Coverage Tell the Right Story?

Aug 03 2016
By Julian Zelizer & Samuel Wang (Produced by Bonelys Rosado and B. Rose Kelly)
Source Woodrow Wilson School

The media have played a powerful role in the 2016 presidential election.

Some critics argue Donald Trump became a viable candidate thanks to his “free airtime,” and that he might not have won the Republican bid without the attention. Others point out blatant sexism in the media given the attention paid to Hillary Clinton’s voice and clothing—something reporters didn’t do as much with male candidates. And Bernie Sanders’ supporters contend “corporate-owned" media are uninterested in scrutinizing his campaign and platform issues.

What is the right way to tell the story of the election? What are the roles of polling data and of shoe-leather journalistic coverage? Can they co-exist? Can they help one another? Professors Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss this and more in episode six of Politics & Polls.

Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 
Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the author of several books including, most recently, "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society." Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics. He has published more than 600 hundred op-eds, including his weekly column on CNN.com

Wang is professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is known for his books "Welcome to Your Brain" and "Welcome to Your Child's Brain" and for his founding role at the Princeton Election Consortium, a blog providing U.S. election analyses. In 2004, Wang was one of the first to aggregate U.S. presidential polls using probabilistic methods. In 2012, his statistical analysis correctly predicted the presidential vote outcome in 49 of 50 states. He has also developed new statistical standards for partisan gerrymandering. A neuroscientist, Wang's academic research focuses on the neuroscience of learning, the cerebellum and autism.