Does the Mainstream Media Influence our Voting Behaviour?

The Independent recently reported that only 28% of Sun readers voted the way the paper wanted them to.

 

This is the lead into a brief article about the Sun’s waning influence over it’s readers – as the article points out that the paper ran an anti-Corbyn campaign, which it did, and some of the headlines and articles were shockingly one-sided:

However, I think the 28% figure above is a bit misleading. You only get this when you calculate in the low turnout by Sun readers, the lowest of all the readerships of the major newspapers, with a turnout of only 48%.

Of those who voted, 62%, or nearly 2/3rds of Sun readers voted for either the Tories or UKIP.’

 

The article then goes on to point out that the swing in this election was 16% points away from UKIP, 12% gain for the Tories, and 6% gain for Labour, meaning that above headline is at least somewhat misleading.

A few things to note here

  • While objectively true (only 28% of Sun readers did vote Tory, it’s true!), this is a good  example of how sound bite snap-shot statements of stats do not actually give you an accurate picture of what’s going on. You need to know that 48% didn’t vote, and that of those who did vote, almost 2/3rds of them voted Tory! AND the swing was mainly away from UKIP.
  • This article shows you a good example of how subjective political biases in reporting can distort the objective statistical facts (of course there are problems with those too, more of that here) – Obviously there’s the example of the bias in The Sun itself, but there’s also bias in The Independent’s (sorry, the ‘Independent’) reporting of the bias in The Sun. The ‘Independent’ is a left wing newspaper, as the above snapshot on how its readers vote handily shows us, and so it leads with a story about how The Sun is waning in influence, the kind of thing its readers will want to hear as they’re currently caught up in Tory-turmoil rapture, suggestion this is biased reporting designed to appeal to people’s emotions.
  • Finally, surely the real headline should be just how many Sun voters didn’t show up to vote – this seems to be a case of the working classes dissociating themselves from the formal political process rather than not voting Tory? Or more thrilling is the increase from 0% to 1% of Sun Readers voting Green, an infinite increase…!

Finally, having said all of this, I actually think The Sun today has less influence over its readers, but the evidence here isn’t sufficient to come to such a conclusion.

What the article should have done to prove this more conclusively is to compare the paper’s 2015 election content to it’s readership’s voting behaviour,  and then compared that to the 2017 relationship.

And doing that would require a more complex metholodogy which wouldn’t fit in with the newspaper’s publishing schedule.

 

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4 Responses to Does the Mainstream Media Influence our Voting Behaviour?

  1. Loving reading your posts, even though I’m not actually revising sociology (I never studied it at school though so it’s all new and interesting to me) 🙂

    Think there are a few typos/formatting issues with this post?

    “You need to know that 48% didn’t vote, and that of those who did vote, almost 2/3rds of them voted labour!” – surely the last word should be Tory?

    Also:

    “AND the swing was mainly away from UKIP an”

    “will want to hear as they’re currently caught up in Tory-turmoil rapture.d towards the Tories, rather than towards Labour.”

    Looks like half a sentence has been moved to another paragraph by accident there.

    Cheers again for all the interesting posts

    • Karl Thompson says:

      Thanks – I corrected everything. I think almost all of my posts need a good grammar scrub, it’s just the time!

      Enjoy your posts on early retirement too – especially liked the Chelmsford posts, I guess you must be exhausted after Ascot!

      Aren’t you concerned that your posts on the topic mean bookies will be able to ID you as an MBer which makes gubbing more likely?

      • Hehe, you post a lot more than I do so can see why the grammar may get left behind (although sure I’ve got loads of errors in any case!).

        Luckily, in a way, I missed all of Ascot as was on holiday with the family, so have had a nice break from both MB and from real work.

        In terms of posts on it leading to gubbings… nah not concerned with that at all. I work in the industry and know that most outfits are a complete shambles to be honest so I think most worries over any of that are totally unfounded and it’s almost random whether you are going to get gubbed sooner rather than later* (but the general rule is that they’ll catch up with you eventually, but certainly not worth worrying about either way). Still just my opinion of course so if you feel it is worth taking measures to avoid gubbings then go for it.

        *As a great example I spoke with Weenie from Quietly saving who got gubbed by betfair sportsbook within a few weeks, yet I have blatantly done MB with them and a load of stinky arbs for well over a year now and have no sign of a gubbing just yet. So there you go… seems rather arbitrary/random if you ask me 🙂

  2. Pingback: Right Wing American Media Bias | ReviseSociology

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