For some readers out there, this may seem like the “No-Duh” headline of the year.
But for those of you who prefer to see data and proof before jumping headlong into an opinion, the research has been done.
Michigan’s Capitol press corps leans Democratic, according to an analysis compiled by Practical Political Data’s Mark Grebner.
Given the names of 37 journalists whose job it is to report or edit the political news that’s coming out of Lansing and state government, Grebner’s data showed that seven lean Republican, four are solidly in the middle, 12 lean Democratic and 10 are pretty hard-core Democratic.
No reliable voting information could be found on four other Capitol reporters.
Grebner’s off-the-cuff analysis of this information?
“I’m surprised there’s that many Republicans,” he said. “Really?”
The information Grebner compiled is based on a complicated formula that he’s tested and validated, and tested and validated, and tested again.
It’s data that’s proven reliable enough over the years to have campaigns of all stripes banging down his door for it.
He and his crew basically harvest the voting data of you, me and every other Michigan resident. How often do you vote? Which presidential primary do you participate in? Where do you live? Which petitions have you signed?
There are countless points of data Grebner uses that he’s found to be predictors on how someone is likely to vote when push comes to shove. While he could get his hands on consumer data, Grebner said he doesn’t use it because it’s not a good predictor of a person’s voting habits.
All of this data is thrown into a pot. Out spits a number 1-99. A “1” is a hard-core Republican. A “99” is a hard-core Democrat. If you’ve ever voted in a Michigan election, you probably have a number. If you’ve voted in a few, you definitely have a number.
The formula makes a lot of sense if you’re an egg-headed genius like Grebner. Most people don’t have the patience or interest in the mechanics of it all.
What he found about the Michigan Capitol Press Corps is this:
They have an average score of 72.1, which has them leaning Democratic more likely than not.
Not a single reporter he tracked voted in the Republican primary in 2020. That’s the one in which President Donald Trump dominated the competition. In fact, some reporters asked for a nonpartisan ballot. They wanted to vote on some local issues, but didn’t want to dive into even the Democratic primary, which Joe Biden had pretty much wrapped up at that point.
This may date the press corps, but only two of the 33 voted in the 1992 presidential primary.
All but one of the 33 voted in the 2022 general election. All but three of them voted in the 2020 general election.
Keep in mind the Michigan Capitol press corps is mostly college-educated, young professionals. Even if they’re married, few have children, which puts them in a demographic that leans Democratic.
But don’t read into this column that reporters are overtly in the bag for Democrats.
Sure, some write for nonprofit publications with a specific mission, whether it’s viewing the news through a partisan lens or as a vehicle to somehow better society. Most political reporters are professionals, however. They go to great pains to keep their leanings, to the extent they have them, out of the public eye. They’re trying to inform the public.
They see the adjective “fair” as the best compliment that can be given to their work.
It’s hard to be viewed as “fair” in this hyper-political environment. It’s easy for those with political motives to assign political motives to others. Groupthink runs wild.
Nobody should be going into their jobs with personal agendas. Journalists are no different.
I’ve worked with all of these journalists in some capacity over the last 22 years.
The fact that I needed an expert’s analysis to tell me where their leanings were says more than the report itself.
(Email Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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