Trump and the media analysts' blind spot

Although the pendulum is swinging ever more clearly in Biden's direction, Donald Trump has performed far better than predicted in the US election, as indeed he did in 2016. Furthermore, as the incumbent president he can spread falsehoods and deliberately misleading statements that go largely unhindered in the media. Why can't journalists and pollsters get the Trump phenomenon under control?

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Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Pressing the mute button on lies and hate

A number of US media outlets have found a way to counteract Trump's false statements, Wiener Zeitung notes:

“Midway through Trump's long-awaited statement in which he announced himself as the winner and made up stories about election manipulation, NBC simply muted him. Then they cut to the studio and announced that they would now correct all the lies Trump was telling. In the background, a gesticulating president, carrying on unheard; in front of him, journalists correcting his lies. Is this the future of TV and online debates? Instant interruption, followed by an explanation that there has been an error. No more space for spreading agitation, hate and lies. ... We must demand a culture of dialogue. ... And those who have nothing to say shouldn't get to speak.”

newsru.com (RU) /

System haters also boycott opinion polls

In a Facebook post republished by newsru.com, sociologist Grigori Judin explains why opinion polls are so poor at reflecting the true impact of protest voters:

“These errors do not happen because the polls select the wrong sample of participants, but because people with certain preferences don't participate in polls. Polls are not flying saucers from which we can look down on the political system, they are themselves a key element of the political system. Those who mistrust this system, who are annoyed by it or hate it, are extremely unlikely to participate in polls. And then they vote in protest - although just a few days before the election day, even they themselves were unaware that this is what they would do.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Unscrupulous, individualistic, American

Europe ignores the America that Trump voters stand for, historian Ernesto Galli della Loggia notes in Corriere della Sera:

“The America of prairies and small towns, rooted in age-old prejudices, insensitive to everything that is done and thought outside of it (starting with the much maligned liberal media). Above all, it is convinced that freedom basically means one thing: being able to do whatever you want with as few basic restrictions as possible. ... It is this America, the America of anarchic individualism, which recognises itself in Trump and which, despite everything, continues to vote for him. ... This is the apparently indelible legacy of a country born thanks to the unscrupulous initiative of individuals, and which has often entrusted its people's fate to the language of weapons.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Hope is stronger than fear

Trump's recipe for success is the positive message of his election campaign, Aftonbladet sums up:

“Election campaigns often take place on an emotional spectrum between hope and fear. Barack Obama's slogan 'Yes, we can' and Ronald Reagan's 'It's morning in America' were ingenious tidings of hope and confidence. But so is Donald Trump's 'Make America Great Again'. Death, on the other hand, is very depressing. You don't want to think about it at all. And that's why the message 'Choose me and you'll get a job' is always better than 'Choose me or you'll be unemployed'. Or as the Democrats pretty much put it : 'Choose us or you'll die'.”

newsru.com (RU) /

Voting on the corona narrative

In a Facebook post published by newsru.com, political scientist Gleb Kuznetsov believes the candidates' position on the coronavirus pandemic was decisive for Trump's unexpectedly strong performance:

“This has been the first 'big' coronavirus election. Among other things, the vote has been influenced - and perhaps even determined - by the 'coronavirus narratives'. ... The Democrats are banking on the view of science. One of Biden/Harris's last major appearances was all about - 'masks, quarantine, contact tracing, responsible action, free vaccines' - which did not go down well, despite all the promises of help. The opposite position - we go on living in the here and now as usual, if you get sick you are treated, as Trump was, and sooner or later you die anyway - is gaining the upper hand, even if according to surveys it is considered 'socially reprehensible'.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

At least TV ads no longer hold sway

At least it isn't money that is deciding the outcome, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung points out:

“Already four years ago, Donald Trump spent much less than opponent Hillary Clinton. This time Joe Biden's campaign team was gathering donations right up to election day and again secured a financial advantage over Trump. ... Are the Democratic Party and its supporters caught up in old ideas? Their perception of the world is perhaps too strongly influenced by the mainstream media and the idea that TV advertising has the same effect as it did 30 years ago. Today, shrewd strategists and highly talented campaigners like Trump reach more people with less money via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This is certainly a comforting realisation.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Not just popular among white voters

Whatever happens, the result will be a moral victory for Trump, The Daily Telegraph is convinced:

“According to a Florida poll, he cut the Democrat advantage among Hispanics from 27 points to just eight. This is big. It completely contradicts the dominant media narrative that Trump is a racist candidate with a strictly racist appeal: if he loses white college educated voters but remains competitive thanks to increased support from Hispanics, that tells us a much more nuanced story than the one we get from the broadcast media. It suggests that the Republicans under his tenure have turned into a genuine working-class coalition. ... Even if he loses, he has a claim to have grown the party and remade it in his image.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

This time they know what they're doing

The fact that a large proportion of voters have knowingly voted for Trump will deepen the rifts in the country, Der Tagesspiegel fears:

“Around half of the country's population still supports Trump. Four years ago they voted for someone whom they didn't really know. This time around they knew what they were doing - and did it anyway. In other words, this time they weren't led astray, they're not Hillary-haters, they're not frustrated voters who've been left by the wayside. They're people who have made a conscious decision. ... One result of this election has already been determined, without the main result being known: it will cement the divisions in the country.”

La Razón (ES) /

The people have spoken

La Razón appeals for greater trust in US democracy:

“It is difficult to estimate how strong the agitation the US population is experiencing will be, and how long it will last. But there can be no doubt that the democratic system and the country's strong institutions will prevail. Not even the poor prospects resulting from the development of the pandemic, which threatens to paralyse the economy once more, can change this reality. A reality that is not always correctly portrayed by international media because they take part in the narrative instead of maintaining the necessary distance. Once again, they believed that the Trump caricature they themselves drew corresponded to the image that all US citizens see. No. It is very possible that Trump will be re-elected. And that just means that democracy has spoken.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

Don't make too much of differences

The divisions in US society could be overcome if each side took the views of the other seriously, journalist Amanda Ripley comments in an article in The Washington Post republished by the Irish Independent:

“The more news Americans consume, the more uninformed they are about their political opponents ... That's a perilous situation. Republicans believe Democrats are more godless, gay and radical than they actually are. Democrats assume Republicans are richer, older and more unreasonable than they are. We've been coached to see each other as caricatures, and it is working. There is still time in the United States to do something different. Violent rhetoric can incite violence. But peaceful rhetoric incites peace.”

Politiken (DK) /

Trump has been a gift for the EU

The EU has benefited from Trump's course of focusing exclusively on US interests, Politiken notes:

“Trump's enormous pressure on the EU has strengthened the EU's internal cohesion. ... The efforts to formulate a common defence policy and boost economic cohesion have become markedly stronger in the past four years, most recently through the mutualisation of debt in the coronavirus crisis. Regardless of what happens in the US in the near future, this process should and must continue - and Denmark should participate as much as possible.”