How do Americans learn what’s going on locally?

September 27, 2012

Interesting new survey findings from the Pew Internet & American Life research project, looking at how Americans in different types of community find out about what’s going on locally.

In summary of the summary – available here – it seems that most use a wide variety of both traditional and online news sources depending on which local topic they’re interested in, but that the mix varies depending on whether you live in an urban, suburban, small town or rural setting.

The blend of media is particularly rich for urban residents; suburban residents are more likely to rely on radio; small town dwellers the local newspaper; and rural residents… are generally ‘less interested in almost all local topics than those in other communities. The one exception is taxes.’

Wonder what these findings mean for how the presidential campaigns’ messages are getting through?


Americans say: enough God (in politics)

March 27, 2012

The Republican race has been over since Super Tuesday, really. Santorum’s successes in the South artificially prolonged the sense that somehow he might sneak it.

So now we’re into what The Post’s Chris Cillizza cheerfully calls the ‘walking dead’ phase of the campaign, recalling memories of Hilary’s limp to the finish line in 2008.

Pointing to Santorum’s angry defence of his equally angry ‘Romney is the worst Republican in the country’ speech, Chris says ‘This is how primary campaigns end, not with a bang but with a wimper. Or, more accurately, a whine.’

Standing back from the fray, what deeper trends did the GOP battle reveal? One that caught my eye – reported in the NYT yesterday – centres on the role of religion in politics which ‘regular readers’ (hello mum) will know to be a topic of ongoing (if not eternal, ho ho) fascination to me.

The Times piece – primarily about the fact that Santorum did peculiarly badly amongst Catholics (who, it turns out, probably unsurprisingly on reflection, do not vote as one bloc) – included coverage of a study by the Pew Research Center that suggests a big increase over the last decade in the proportion of US voters who think there’s too much religion in politics.

The nationally representative poll of 1500 Americans found that about two-fifths (38 per cent) felt there was ‘too much’ by way of ‘open expressions of religious faith and prayer by politicians’, more than a threefold increase since the question was first asked by the Pew Center in 2001 (when 12 per cent agreed there was ‘too much’ religion on display amongst politicians).

This would seem to explain why Romney’s Mormonism – which every bugger thought would be a major issue for Republican voters – simply wasn’t a big deal (apart from for loony Evangelicals, of course).

It will be interesting to track whether the changing demographics of the States – I’m thinking in particular here the rapidly increasing size of the Latino population – will have any bearing on the downward trend in Americans’ willingness to tolerate God in politics.

But for now… onto the big race.

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