I’ve been asked by a number of people how it’s possible that the media could end up shocked come Tuesday night. As some have pointed out, it’s as though the Obama and Romney camps have two completely different models for the election’s outcome. It’s easy to get caught up in the campaign season at hand, and to ignore all of the precedents. I don’t know any more than anybody else, but I’ve noticed that over the last few decades, when the mainstream media predictions miss in a big way, it’s invariably because they’ve again underestimated the resolve of the American people, and the level of disgust Americans feel toward government. The one election that exemplifies this idea was 1994. Remember the shock? Remember the excuse-making? The coverage of that cycle suggested that the Republicans would pick up a few seats, but nobody in media was predicting what actually happened. Sitting in their studios in New York and Washington DC, they were dumbfounded. I don’t know if 2012 will be that kind of year, but if the media meme turns out to have been another bubble, I won’t be surprised. As usual, I believe the media has projected its own sentiments onto the Americans, a people who may have other ideas.
There’s something fundamentally broken about the notions held by the biased lame-stream media. They look out and see America differently than you and I. They view the American people as suckers to be fooled, and they’re always stunned when the American people stage a revolt against the conventional wisdom. It happens in other countries too, but there’s something special about America and Americans that causes the media to miss election outcomes in a big way. What may make the difference is that Americans, particularly conservatives, have a uniquely rebellious side. They don’t generally show up with protest signs, but on election day, they voice their displeasure with a kind of fervor that doesn’t require loud and boisterous outbursts. The media likes to talk about “the adult in the room,” but most frequently, in American elections, it is the voting mentality of the conservatives that provide that characteristic. These are people who live their lives by simply getting things done, and in the main, they do so in relative silence. If they show up in legions at the polls on Tuesday, the media is going to look foolish on Wednesday morning.
The media underestimates the sentiment of Americans at large because they don’t know Americans at large. They live in their tight-knit circles and insular cliques, but they seldom venture out into the vastness of “fly-over country.” More than this, however, they simply don’t connect with ordinary Americans outside their own philosophical leanings, and it is in this particular dismissal that they often find themselves “out of sync” with the American people. They don’t know our pain, and they don’t know the suffering inflicted upon we and our neighbors by endless government meddling. They simply assume that all of America is like the country they know. Such a limited picture is sure to result in errors, and frequently, it’s not a small error measured in a point or two within a few districts, but a widespread misjudgment stretching from sea to shining sea.
I don’t know if 2012 will be a year like that, but what I do know is that such years generally have a few characteristics. Democrats are in power. Democrats’ policies are in force in our nation’s capital. The country at large is much more dissatisfied with the state of the nation than the talking heads in the mainstream media. Enthusiasm of voters is one-sided, and against them. America is in mortal danger, in economic, financial, and/or national security matters.
When all these things are true, the media misses it big, and the reason is very simple: They never perceive the dangers as clearly as Americans who are suffering as a result. They never experience the losses. They sit in their studios, warm and cozy and without fear, so they assume that’s how it is in every household in the country. Being insulated as they are from the worst of conditions, they never see the warning signs of an impending revolt. After four years of Barack Obama, Americans are quite clear on the risks of continuing on this path, but the media is as detached from that reality as is possible. In fact, they’ve spent a great deal of their air time trying to convince Americans that conditions aren’t so bad, but people who are losing their homes and their businesses and their jobs are not likely to be swayed by propaganda.
At the end of it all, that may be the media blind-spot that causes the largest errors: They come to believe their own hype. As the sun rises across the vast expanses of America, her people are rising to go out and cast their votes. As the media continues to try to shoehorn the impending election results into the unreality they’ve portrayed, it may just turn out that the shoe cannot be made to fit. If that turns out to be, as I suspect will be the case, the media will have egg on its face again, just like in 1994, or in 1980, when they scrambled for explanations as to how it had been possible. It’s been two decades since the American people have sent an sitting president home, and it’s been nearly that long since the media had its last reality-jarring shock. If the American people rise to oust the 44th president, they will be horrified and stunned, but I will not. Obama has been too divisive for too long, but even if the media seems unable or unwilling to recognize it, the American people are not. That is why the media may well be missing this election by a wider margin, and voters may blow them away.