Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Why Pennsylvania Could Decide The 2016 Election - 538

The story aims to show the audience why Pennsylvania is more of a swing state than others, such as Florida or Ohio, through calculating how states have been trending (red or blue) since the 1992 elections. In terms of approaches to journalism, Wasserman uses a combination of quantitative data and empirical values. Wasserman first uses a combination of examples from his data collection that validate “common” beliefs among Americans  (California has been trending more democratically every four years while West Virginia has been trending more republican every four years). Wasserman finally reveals his point that Pennsylvania, a state that has gone blue since 1992, has been trending more and more red every four years. The way in which his “trending” data was explained was a bit confusing, but once he got into the specifics of why this type of trend was occurring, it made more sense. Wasserman specifically uses data that shows a democratic increase in the Philadelphia market since 1992, but also a democratic decline in the areas outside of Philadelphia. Afterword’s, he states three reasons (economic trends, demographics, and voting laws) as to why this is occurring and how it will help Trump perform better in Pennsylvania compared to usual swing states such as Colorado and Virginia.

Overall, I think all the data was presented well, but was hard to interpret initially. He aims to change a common perception of swing states, by evaluating all of them, and then gets specific to Pennsylvania. Although it took me some time to interpret all of this, I believe Wasserman did a good job of presenting a wide scale belief, addressing a possible change in a trend, and then stating why it could matter. I don’t think the data could have been presented differently, but in the end I was left with a feeling of uncertainty. Was data like this that important to the election? Was a state that really has been Democratic since 1992 really going to change? Like some data journalism stories, the point is that this probably matters, but of course we won’t know until the election.


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