As some folks are pointing out, the results from the Nevada caucuses (results currently show 60% reported 24 hours later) are behind where Iowa’s were (about 62% reported after 24 hours) after a day, even with Nevada’s four-day early voting head start, but we’re not getting rending of cloth from the press. The Nevada Caucuses, even with a challenge from Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, won’t be labeled a disaster, debacle or worse.
I think it’s pretty simple.
Democrats in Nevada did a better job setting expectations than we did in Iowa.
When the Iowa Democratic Party said it would have results rolling out starting in the evening of the caucuses, media laid its plans, including live coverage. When, unexpectedly, there weren’t results to report, all the press had to report was the lack of results.
So it did.
In Nevada, they made no such promise.
Having failed to set realistic expectations, the IDP failed to fill the information gap so it was filled with freaking out and conjecture.
When a space exists between what people want to know and what knowledge is publicly available, there’s what I call an information gap. And that gap creates a vacuum that will be filled, if not with real information, then with conjecture.
The political press calls this punditry.
Remember how the IDP phone lines were being clogged by media asking for updates (and a bunch of 4chan assholes)? In a crisis, staying quiet and hoping it will blow over is always attractive to the people who have to talk to the press, but it rarely works out well.
Iowa’s results were supposed to be primetime programming. Nevada’s weren’t.
There’s a huge difference between what the press will do on a Monday night in primetime and what it wants in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.
Weekends are when you’ve got the B team on the anchor desk. The big Sunday stories were filed on Friday. The press and its audiences are out to dinner, watching sports or drinking.
Late Friday is the traditional time to dump news you don’t want covered. Saturday afternoon is a good day for voting, but a bad time for news coverage.
Monday night, in primetime, is high-viability, especially when you’ve got your A team all ready to talk about results from the first-in-the-nation contest.
Nevada has a clear winner and thus a story.
This is the most important one. “Media bias” isn’t left or right. It’s a bias towards narrative and conflict.
Bernie Sanders won first in Nevada and the AP called it pretty early. The story is now “Sanders is the true frontrunner for the nomination” while other campaigns fight it out for second place.
And the conflict piece has been nicely filled in, too, with anti-Bernie and pro-Bernie and anti-anti-Bernie factions fighting over if he can or can’t be Trump and what needs to happen next for a non-Sanders candidate to get the nomination.
Media needs a narrative. Without a clear winner, Iowa’s was “disaster”. With a winner, which is kinda the point of these nominating contests, Nevada has a narrative.