Monday, January 23, 2017

Trying to Understand America

We live in a marvelous age, the information age.

Grief and History, Washington, D.C.

So, trying to understand the Trump election, I googled a map of the country which showed a map of the country with counties which "flipped" from Obama to Trump in 2016.

Counties which flipped from Obama to Trump

Then, having some names in hand, I went to each county and entered: Newspapers for ...whatever county.
Counties in Red, for Trump
Scanning through these, I found stories about the annual chili cook off, auto wrecks, bizarre local crimes--one, in Wisconsin, involved a beheading--auto accidents involving police officers or fire department officials, all sorts of local color, but almost no stories about Washington, D.C. and the national news. Trump's name appeared nowhere.

I will have to refine my technique apparently.
But, if I push this more and find there really is little national news in these papers, it might help understood how "low information" voters put Trump into office.
They really do not have information, from newspapers at least.  Where are they getting the opinions which drive decisions in the voting booths?
Does anyone know?
Here are the counties I found:
1/ Fayette County, Iowa
2/ Eaton, Michigan
3/ Shiawassee, Michigan
4/ Juneau, Wisconsin
5/ Itasca, Minnesota
6/ Luzerne, Pennslyvania
7/ Bladen, North Carolina

This is a first step, but I do think we need to think about how to find and learn about our countrymen.
So far, looking at the on line papers from these areas, it is not an encouraging sight.
I understand, my scan was superficial. Had I done the same for the Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Herald, I would have missed the "Daily Police Log" the best thing about that paper. But even the Herald has stories about national politics.

If you are feeling particulary masochistic, go google any of the names on this list , then, as an exercise choose one:  key in "Newspapers for Juneau, Wisconsin" for example, and read what people there are reading.

Looking at the images of Americans in these places is startling. They do not look like New York City people. They do not look like people you see in commercials on TV. They look, well, you go look. Tell me what you see. These are the people who listen to Donald Trump speak, and they are smiling.

It may be few people actually read local newspapers any more. It may be this is the wrong place to look for opinion formation.
Maybe I should simply turn on Fox News.

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