I always tell my students that the best stories come from what you’re most curious about. And for all the coverage of the presidential campaign we’ve been getting in print, online and on cable, my curiosity about what’s really going on in the battleground states and in their most evenly divided precincts hasn’t come close to being satisfied. With all the time and money CNN, Politico and the major newspapers are spending letting the usual suspects opine on the horse race, they should zero in on the people who count by doing some of the following:
a. The voters: Why haven’t the news organizations most heavily invested in campaign coverage selected representative samples of voters (undecided, as well as voters leaning to one side or the other) in three or four battleground precincts across the country – from Colorado to Ohio and New Hampshire to Florida – to ask them in focus groups what, if anything, is persuading them or turning them off? This should be video programming, but that doesn’t mean Politico or the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal (or even Reuters or Bloomberg) – in addition to the cable news networks – couldn’t do it, given that they all now have robust online video programming. There’s almost an infinite number of questions I’d want to hear these voters asked, among them:
Have field workers called or knocked on their doors? If so, what are the canvassers saying? Is it persuasive?
Which of the television ads bombarding these voters have had the most positive effect? Which have turned them off? Are they even still listening to any of them? Which is most memorable and why?
What speakers at the convention appealed to them or turned them off? Do they even know about the Clint Eastwood fiasco, much less care? Who made a more effective appeal to women or Hispanics?