The student blog for Drake University first year seminar entitled Visual Politics

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Election Night

On November 2, 2010 hundreds of house and senate elections took place in order to enlighten and embrace the public. The House of Representatives and a third of the Senate was up for election. After the final results were broadcasted the Democrats still controlled the Senate while the Republican Party dominated the House of Representatives. Democrats held seven less seats in the Senate then two years ago when the Republicans gained 64 seats in the House of Representatives.
One feature that CNN conveys is hypothetical situations throughout the race which is a factor of voter turnout being so low. These situations discourage most people to vote; they don’t think their vote matters. Another factor is the misrepresentation of the public opinion polls; can’t base an election turnout on polls. Public opinion polls allow people to think their candidate is projected to win or lose so they don’t vote. CNN also has the tendency to project the winners of some races right when the polls close and use scientific polling, scientific polling is how the public opinion polls are constructed. Public opinion polls are full of errors and can’t be depended on because usually they aren’t constructed properly. These polls contain three aspects to be constructed properly. First, the polls have to be representative. Second, the polls take the votes of about 1000-2000 voters to project the results of the election based on a larger scale. Finally, public opinion polls have to be random; the votes can’t be self-selected and voters can’t volunteer. Projecting the winners of some races right when the polls close and using hypothetical situations doesn’t help the voter turnout.
                Banners scrolling across the bottom of the screen, maps, graphs, and non-stop commentary are also another common characteristic shown on CNN. The graphs exposed how many seats remained and which party was dominating each the House of Representatives and Senate. The maps were bursting with red and blue color. The most common characteristic people pay attention to throughout the election is the banner scrolling on the bottom of their screen; it displays a lot of information. The banner shows how many seats remain and the percentages of individual races. Most importantly, the banner shows information about the races that the commentators didn’t talk about or go into great detail about. These characteristics shown on CNN allow the viewers and voters to determine their own opinion about the election and the coverage of the race.
                The final feature I noticed portrayed on CNN during the election was how the coverage was set up. The coverage was held with many different tables and abundant people at those tables with blinking screens on countless information behind them. This set up of the CNN coverage represented some similar to a newsroom.  While this is happening there is also the banner scrolling across the bottom of the screen informing people who won each state election. There was information being talked about, banners scrolling across the bottom of the television, and blinking screens in the background. Yes, this made the election more informative but it also increased the confusion.
                Overall CNN focused on many different elections and represented them as a whole. Although there might have been some confusion with the over load of information on the screen throughout the night and misrepresentation leading to a low number of voter turnout, CNN produced good information making the election coverage a success.
 Sierra Riasati

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