Monday, November 3, 2008

MSNBC-TV: Last minute coverage...before the BIG day

by Brooks Jarosz

People are heading to the polls! Even before November 4th, voters have turned out in swarms to make their voices heard early. Since I knew I would be covering local elections, I was one of those people. I headed into the board of election in Athens on Friday morning and was out within twenty minutes! Of course by midday the line was out the door and down the street.

The news networks were building up for the big day. Both NBC and MSNBC took time out of their broadcasts to promote thier election coverage. The most interesting I heard about was ABC's use of all the Times Square jumbotrons to broadcast election results. MSNBC has an interactive dashboard to keep up with all of the results. They also explain how many people are taking part in activities on the web this election.

Covering the states to watch
Brian Williams checked in with a number of reporters covering the key swing states. I thought this was effective not only in coverage, but also in promoting NBC as a worthwhile election resource. He started with a reporter in Florida who spoke of the varied support in that state. I never knew the northern part of Florida is primarily conservative whereas the southern tip is mostly liberal. The candidates are fighting for independents who usually reside in the middle part of the state. Interesting facts!

Another swing state covered was Virginia, where no democrat has won since 1964, before electing Lyndon B. Johnson. The late Tim Russert's son covered Indiana and mentioned the youth vote, where of some 300,000 new voters, 125,000 are under age 25. My overall impression of the coverage was fast-paced and engaging, making it an exciting atmosphere all over the country.

Polls and targets...are they matching up?
Over 150 national polls have been taken over this past week. Most of them show Obama ahead by two to 12 percentage points. My question always is how reliable and accurate are these polls? MSNBC must be pretty confident, as they constantly talk polls and run state polls at the bottom of the screen. One recent Quinnapiac Poll says Obama is ahead 52 percent to McCain's 42 percent. While it might be ok to predict, I would be careful in what I was saying or observing.

Two political analysts, Peter Hart and Neil Newhouse commented on the overall campaigns. Hart mentioned Obama has been attracting independents, blue collar workers, suburban people and those between the age of 18 and 34. They both agree that having the legend lower will help keep things away from the top.

Since the economy is so important, many independents have been turning to Obama and his platform to learn more.

It should be an exciting election. Other than the eight calls I received from political campaigns I got today, it was an enjoyable day. Tomorrow, preparation will take place for cut ins on WOUB-TV with coverage of the state and local issues. Now, it's all up to the battleground states. It is proving to be a well covered contest!

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