Monthly Archives October 2008

Geography of Newspaper Endorsements in the 2008 US Presidential Election

A visualization experiments on interconnecting datasets:

newspaper endorsement map screenshot 470 Geography of Newspaper Endorsements in the 2008 US Presidential ElectionGeography of Newspaper Endorsements in the 2008 US Presidential Election

Apart from the unsurprising evidence that (choose one: [[Obama is the overwhelming choice]] -OR- [[there is overwhelming liberal media bias]]), I’m struck by the mismatch between papers’ endorsements and their “Red State” vs “Blue State” alignment.

  • I think the amount of red in the blue states is a market effect. If you’re the Boston Herald, there’s no percentage in agreeing with the Boston Globe; similarly Daily News vs New York Post, SF Examiner vs SF Chronicle. That’s why the Tribune endorsement, even accounting for hometown bias, is so striking. I don’t mean that they’re cynically pandering; rather that in a market with multiple papers readers, and journalists are efficiently sorted into two separate camps. (And the axis doesn’t have to be political: though the Chronic and the Statesman are politically distinct I see their main difference being lifestyle vs. traditional news).
  • The amount of blue in the red states highlights how foolishly incomplete the “Red State/Blue State” model is for anything but electoral college returns. The largest part of the Red/Blue split is Rural/Urban — look at the electoral cartogram for the last election and almost every city is blue, even in the south and mountain; and almost all of our rural areal is red. The exceptions, chiefly Dallas, Houston and Boise, stand noticeably alone as having red unpaired with blue. (Though in this election even the Houston Chronicle is endorsing Obama.)I’m going to try to make a map colored by county, but there are no good off-the-shelf tools for doing this (that I’ve found).

This seems to speak of why so many on the right feel there’s a MSM bias — 50% of the country is urban, 50% rural, but newspapers are located exclusively in urban areas [see below]. So, surprisingly, the major right-leaning papers are all located in parts of the country we consider highly leftish. The urban areas that are the largest are thus both the most liberal and the most likely to have a sizeable conservative target audience.