Friday, December 14, 2012

Reconciling the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election Results

In reconciling the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election result in which Obama received 50.95 percent of the popular vote and Romney 47.31 percent, the FDA looks among other things at the campaign coverage. Was the American electorate fully informed of all presidential candidates and their policies? Was there balanced campaign coverage?

In consideration of the last 32 days of the U.S. Presidential Election and the FDA's U.S. Media Study involving 7,924 data points on the U.S. national media's election coverage, Barack Obama received 9.25 percent more U.S. national media coverage than Mitt Romney, 54 percent to 44.75 percent. In addition, Obama received more total positive news coverage than Romney and less total negative news coverage than Romney. Third-party presidential candidates were almost non-existent with a combined 1.25 percent of the total national news coverage (compared to 98.75 percent for Obama and Romney).

The question arises: is it the role of the media during elections to influence the election outcome or to help fully inform the electorate? If it is the former, the results above say that the U.S. national media did its role well, by being biased to Obama and completely disregarding third-party candidates. If it is the latter, then the results above are evidence that the U.S. presidential election outcome may lack legitimacy.

Mr. Stephen Garvey, Foundation for Democratic Advancement, Executive Director

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