Media should stop dividing polls into sects

Campaign 2008 has turned out to be a very exciting contest, but does the media’s quest to categorize the process hurt America?

If you’ve paid attention to the intense media coverage, you’ve probably noticed that voters are being polled as to whom they voted for, and then they’re lumped into a neat demographic for analysis: poor, uneducated, affluent, well-educated, white, black, Hispanic, women, men, young and old.

I understand the reasoning, but quite frankly, it makes me uncomfortable. The rhetoric is divisive.

Certainly, this information is helpful for the candidates, and for anyone planning a future campaign, but I don’t think the average American needs it.

As a nation, we’ve struggled much to get beyond the labels that society has tagged us with. We’ve fought against stereotypes that are implicit in our success or failure. By announcing election results in this way, which shows the inclination of poor, uneducated white Southerners or affluent, well-educated black people, the media consolidates the data into a group think – telling their audience, this is the way they are.

Indeed, all people in these groups do not share the same opinions of the majority of their demographic. But these generalizations may lead people to false assumptions, because their only perspective on them is what they hear or read in the media.

It’s certainly true that we are divided by conservative, moderate and liberal; red and blue; but the media have taken it a step too far. Although it is fascinating data for the political commentators, newscasts should not be the forum for it.

We live in a society that is driven by market analysis – this, in itself, is not a bad thing, but it is a misused tool when reporting election returns. Ageism, sexism, racism and all the other -isms are only perpetuated.