Papers Reviewed: The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Washington Post, The Daily Telegraph (Australia)
The Guardian – Polls
Bearing in mind that the British papers had to be written and printed before the final results of the American election were announced, the Guardian finishes its election coverage with a reminder that this one has been the most divisive in history. The two sides have staked their ground out and hurled insults between them, with criminal proceedings being threatened against both candidate numerous times. And as this article was written, as the last speeches of the campaign had been delivered, the American public were going out to vote.
What strikes me the most about this article, and indeed it’s a common theme shared among most reports from the election, is a tendency to lean perhaps too heavily on the polls. There is of course much of merit with polls, not the least that they represent one of our only methods to determine the potential results of elections, stopping short of going with ‘gut instinct’. And yet over the past year there have been numerous examples of significant discrepancies between the polling results and the actual results.
In nearly every major poll Clinton was ahead, 47-43% in the ABC/Post poll, or 203 electoral college votes to 164 in the Financial Times estimations. And the same positive predictions for the losing side were seen during the Brexit campaign, and the general election campaign in 2015. What is wrong then? It is very possible that there needs to be a change in the way that polls are conducted, that they may favour the more educated and urbanised areas of countries which give disproportionate weight to certain demographics when predicting election results. What we can say for sure is that polls are not to be believed and unfortunately the only numbers that count are those final results.
The Daily Telegraph – The Media
The Daily Telegraph left British people with an interesting and well known analysis of the election, one that is echoed by media outlets across the country: neither candidate is perfect but Trump has displayed flaws in his character and politics that cannot, surely, be amenable to the American people. The article uses phrases like ‘jeered by protestors’ and ‘booed at the polling station’ to reinforce the impression that he faces opposition wherever he turns. And yet we wake up on Wednesday with the news that he has won, is the next President of the United States.
When you look at all the coverage of the election in the past few months it is overwhelmingly negative towards Trump and offers more support and imagined routes towards victory for Clinton. I am not saying that this in some way proves the point Trump makes about media bias, in fact most of the reporting was based on factual evidence of Trump indiscretions and surely there is an argument here regarding basic human decency and compassion but the disjunction between the opinions of the media and in extension, higher educated people with the actual results should worry us.
This election represents a growing gap between those who feel left behind and those that do not. Between those who have felt their values ignored for years and those who with the help of social media and education have never before felt more connected. This was the ultimate ‘vote for the good old days’ and yes it is terrifying but it is also very important that the apparent disconnect between the two groups be analysed and remedied because it could get much worse before it gets better.
The Washington Post – World Trends
The American news kicks into gear on election results day with headlines about Trump’s win. Most focus on the improbability of it all, including the Washington Post. The result is seen as ‘scorn for the status quo’, a reaffirmation that many people are sick of the same politics that has landed us with economic crashes, unemployment and the rise of ISIL. Who saw this coming they ask?
Brexit is mentioned repeatedly, in Britain and America, with the Post even stating that Trump had mentioned his own campaign’s imitation of that unlikely victory. There emerges a larger comparison when the wider picture is viewed. As the results were announced Trump received congratulatory messages from David Duke, the former leader of the KKK, from Marine Le Penn of the French Front National and Geert Wilders of the Dutch Party for Freedom. Every single one of these groups has strong connections with far right sympathies and racist propaganda. The impacts of these connections cannot be overstated, and they represent a growing trend in the world.
The disillusionment felt by many with politics and the ways in which the world is run has been successfully tapped into and taken hostage by the far right. In many ways it is the same sense of injustice that Jeremy Corbyn and the Podemos party in Spain have appealed to so effectively and it is a sentiment felt by many if us reading this article. There is much to be done in order to combat the growing gap between the mega rich and everyone else, the gap between those that can afford living expenses and those that cannot. The reasons behind the results go much deeper than simple racism and there must be an effort by the left to address the cause, or there is no hope left.
The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia) – World View
The final paper we look at today is from Australia. It offers a damning opinion on the election and perhaps represents much of the world view on the subject. No longer is it God Bless America, but rather God Save America (any maybe in extension, the world). America used to hold itself up as the emblem of democracy and stability, but now we enter a period where nothing is certain and the strongest country in the world finds itself split in half by anger and fear. And it should scare us just as much as it scares Americans.
Welcome to the age of Trump, and good luck.