Other Things To Write About

[ Posted Tuesday, January 23rd, 2024 – 18:45 UTC ]

As I sit here watching the New Hampshire primary election results roll in, there don't seem to be any huge surprises developing yet -- most of the votes aren't in yet, so I suppose there's still time... but the chances are the headlines are soon going to be reading something along the lines of: "It's Over Almost Before It Began," as both Donald Trump and Joe Biden wrap up their respective nominations.

[Editorial note: Just after the last polling place closed, the news organizations called the race for Donald Trump, as was expected. Right after the write-in ballots on the Democratic side began to be counted, that race was called for Joe Biden -- again, as expected.]

Which would be historic, in a way. After all, it's still January. That is insanely early for a presidential nomination race to essentially be over for both sides. It may in fact be unprecedented in modern times.

So I find myself wondering what the pundit class is going to do for the next three or four months. In a normal election year, we'd all have lots of fun writing about the horserace and predicting what's going to happen in the next primaries on the calendar. With both contests already wrapped up, those sorts of stories aren't even going to be possible. My own longtime readers know that usually I do exactly the same thing, and track my own prediction record as time goes on (how many states I call correctly versus how many states I blow).

What could fill this void in the punditocracy? I found myself wondering that, and here's what I came up with... maybe others have other ideas they want to share, too....


The actual issues. There's one thing that has always bugged me about the mainstream media's normal coverage of any political campaign, and that is that the reporters quickly become very jaded to what the candidates are actually saying and proposing. I suppose this is understandable, when you think about it. If it was your job to follow around one candidate out on the campaign trail and you heard essentially the same stump speech over and over and over again, you'd get pretty numb to what was actually in that speech. What the reporters forget is that for each and every audience, it is not a boring repetition, they are hearing it for the first time. It is all new to them. And by extension, actually covering the substance of the speech in detail would probably be new to most of their readers as well.

So instead of falling into the same old trap -- only reporting on the few sentences that do change with each iteration of the speech, or focusing in on a gaffe or whatever -- it would be refreshing to read articles that run down exactly what each candidate is promising to the voters. Run a series of articles that takes individual issues on and quotes at length from the candidate's stock campaign speech, to let all the voters who don't have time to either attend a rally or watch a full campaign video know the breadth and depth of the candidate's platform or agenda.


Third party influence. This one is normally not that big an issue, but this year it might have an outsized effect on the race. With so many voters not terribly enthused about the two major party candidates (and that is putting it politely), the chances of disaffected voters considering a longshot have gone up -- and several candidates have stepped into this window already.

We've already got Cornel West and Robert F. Kennedy Junior in the race as independents, and the stealth party "No Labels" is getting on more and more states' ballots as time goes by. They haven't announced who they're going to ultimately run, but whoever it is will have the possibility of shaking up the race further.

West will run to Joe Biden's left, and with the Israel/Gaza war still raging, he has the possibility of picking up a slice of the youth vote and the progressive vote. R.F.K. Jr. is a conspiracy-theory nutjob, but he certainly does have a famous name to run on. Either one may wind up siphoning votes off from Biden (although R.F.K. Jr. may also draw disaffected Republican voters as well). And the No Labels candidate is a total wildcard, at this point, but they've obviously got a lot of money behind them so whomever they choose as their candidate is going to have to be taken seriously as well.

If the contest between Trump and Biden was heavily tilted to either one of them, third parties wouldn't matter. However, at this point, the race is incredibly close (according to the polls), so any or all of these candidates could wind up being the determinative factors. Which seems to merit a whole lot of media coverage, you would think.


Trump is old, too. This one actually is beginning to get some coverage, especially after Trump's gaffe last week when he mixed up Nancy Pelosi and Nikki Haley in his mind. Sure, Joe Biden is way old. And he has made some gaffes and misstatements. But Trump also does this on a regular basis. So cover it! Whenever Trump says something obviously wrong or totally incoherent, report it. It's newsworthy....


People are feeling better about the economy. This one is also beginning to get some media coverage, to be fair. But the news media has a long way to go to make up for hammering people with "there's a recession right around the corner!" for approximately the past year or so, when the predicted recession never materialized. So how about a lot more stories about how historically good the economy now is? Even more helpful would be to contrast where we are now with where we were in 2021, when Biden first took office. Shine a spotlight on Biden's record, both the bad things that have happened since then as well as the good. Both are newsworthy, and the media spent so much time on the bad news it's time to make up for it in a big way.


OK, that's what I've got. As I said, these are just random musings while I watch the returns continue to roll in.

We're going to have a very unusual election year, what with both the nominees already known after only two states have voted. This is going to leave a whole lot of column-inches and airtime to fill up with something other than the normal horserace reporting, for the next few months at least. In other words, instead of obsessing over the polling and "who is up/who is down," we're all going to have to find other things to talk about.

Which could, in the end, turn out to be a positive development.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


3 Comments on “Other Things To Write About”

  1. [1] 
    andygaus wrote:

    As far as Trump's incoherence, he set a new standard at a rally in Rochester, New Hampshire on Sunday:
    "remain in Mexico until booddiddy booddiddy yeanh"

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    he gave nancy pelosi a real thumping today.

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It's amazing how stable the percentages are from when only about 10% of the vote is in right up to when most of the votes are finally counted.

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