01nov08 Media and US elections analysis

By Jesse Stanchak, Slate Magazine

Going into the final weekend before the election, the Los Angeles Times leads with the presidential candidates (and their surrogates) making their last dashes across battleground states. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., targeting areas that typically favor Republicans, including Republican Sen. John McCain’s home state of Arizona, a notion the LAT shares.


The New York Times goes lower with campaign news and instead leads with worries that faltering consumer spending may give rise to deflation. The Washington Post leads with a look at how an expanded interpretation of the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause is hampering congressional corruption investigations.

The LAT focuses on the efforts of Sens. Obama and McCain to capture heartland swing states that voted for President Bush in 2004, including Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa. The paper depicts a McCain camp scrambling for a comeback while Obama supporters are trying to ward off complacency and avoid any major gaffes between now and the election. Indeed, the NYT writes that many Obama backers, especially those from traditionally “blue” states, are having a hard time believing recent polls that show their candidate ahead. After crushing losses in 2000 and 2004, many Democrats say they’re wary of getting their hopes up again, no matter how good the polls look.

The WP, meanwhile fronts dueling campaign pieces: one on McCain volunteers trying to win Pennsylvania and one on Obama supporters trying to make inroads in heavily conservative southern Virginia. The point of both pieces is the same: Supporters in each camp are trying to flip an area that historically favors the other party. The big difference is that while Obama is projected to carry Virginia (if not its southern counties), McCain continues to poll behind in Pennsylvania. This would mean that Obama’s supporters are just priming the ground for future races, whereas McCain backers are looking to turn the tide in a must-win state that seems to be slipping away from them. The paper portrays these two efforts in very different ways. The McCain piece is much shorter and more succinct, and it focuses on the McCain volunteers making their last stand in Pennsylvania. The Obama piece is long on colorful descriptions and focuses more on southern Virginia voters and their reasons for voting for one candidate or the other—or not voting at all.



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