by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The cultural gap between those who vote in the Republican presidential primaries and those who cover the candidates in those primaries is now a chasm.
One by one, the media covering the Republican presidential candidates attach some quickly assembled defining flaw to each candidate: “Rand Paul has a temper problem with the media”; “Ted Cruz is an unelectable extremist”; “Scott Walker’s lack of a completed college degree is likely to be a major problem.”
All of these flaws are in the eye of the media beholder. Ordinary Americans don’t particularly care if Rand Paul is brusque with interviewers; they have a low opinion of journalists already. Ted Cruz’s ideas are much less “extreme” outside of newsrooms. And only about one-third of Americans have a bachelor’s degree, making Scott Walker closer to the “average American” than everyone else in the field.
A lot of members of the media who are covering the GOP presidential candidates have exceptionally little in common with the voters who will select the Republican nominee. Thus, when the Republican candidates make their pitch to grassroots conservatives, the hot-take instant analysis from the big media voices usually concludes that the pitch was a belly flop. But the GOP candidates aren’t trying to win votes in the New York and D.C. newsrooms, and in a spectacular failure of empathy and understanding, a lot of reporters simply can’t grasp the hopes, fears, and priorities of GOP-leaning voters in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina . . . and Tennessee.