David Trinko: Polls bring better reporting on the issues in presidential race


By David Trinko - The Lima News



The Lima News really does know what you care about when it comes to the presidential race.

You really care about economy, the general direction of the public good, and public policy. You’re not as interested in foreign policy or the political process itself.

I’m sure some people will read into that their own perceptions of their local newspaper. Based on calls I take regularly, that means conservatives think we’ll shove some Communist manifesto down their throats, and the liberals think we’ll frame everything from a 1950s-era view of America. (Like most Americans, most of our writers are somewhere in the middle.)

In reality, we’re just trying to answer the questions that matter most to you. The questions we’re asking in northwest Ohio are different from other parts of the state and the country because your concerns are different. We’re trying to weigh that in our plans for local coverage of the campaigns, including stops by candidates and their advocates.

The Lima News continues its support of the Your Vote Ohio, a collaboration of newspapers, radio stations and TV stations across Ohio. We know Ohio’s always a swing state in the election, and we all want everyone to be as educated on details as possible. We’ve been able to enjoy the results of in-depth regional polling that none of us could afford alone.

Not surprisingly, it shows the questions we care about in Lima are a little different than the ones in Cleveland, Cincinnati or Columbus.

Throughout the state, economic questions are important, including issues about jobs, prices, poverty, inequality and trade. In the poll, 25 percent of people in our part of the state said that was their important issue.

Just behind that is the “public order” category, at just under 25 percent, which ranked fourth statewide as opposed to second locally. That includes concerns about racism, morals, rights, abortion, sexuality, drugs, crime, violence, guns, family and youth. Yes, these issues truly matter to you, so they should truly matter to us.

Third for our region was public policy, at 18 percent. That category, which ranked second statewide, includes government spending, taxes, health care, education, veterans, welfare programs, environment and infrastructure.

Tied for fourth for us was foreign policy and the political process at 14 percent. The political process includes concerns about the political processes and ideologies, as well as personal issues with politicians and candidates, the lack of cooperation, special interests and corruption. In other words, much of the in-fighting between Republicans and Democrats just isn’t that important of a thing to you.

We hope you notice this shifted focus when we write local stories about the election. We’re trying to avoid the name-calling that’s gotten so ugly this election, even if it is exciting and quotable. We want to highlight what the candidates say about the issues most important to you, namely the economy and these issues of the public good.

Local news ranked higher for providing excellent coverage of the issues that mattered most to you, but it was a paltry 4 percent, compared to 3 percent for national news and the candidates themselves. At least 18 percent of you said we were doing a good job and 23 percent said we were doing a fair job, better numbers than the candidates or national news received.

We’re trying to be transparent about why we won’t be focusing on foreign policy or the political process, since you made it clear to the pollsters those weren’t the most important issues to you. We’re trying to get these candidates to answer the questions about the topics you care about most.

It isn’t easy. Stump speeches are full of energy and low on details. It’s nearly impossible to ask a candidate a direct question. But we think you deserve some substantial reporting about what the various campaigns will actually do if they’re elected. This isn’t a beauty pageant or a popularity contest; it’s deciding who’s at the controls of the country for the next four years.

We hope you appreciate those efforts and demand the same of all the candidates, no matter who you support. You deserve details.

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By David Trinko

The Lima News

David Trinko is managing editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.

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