Monday, September 22, 2008

My first interesting fact from this week's homework

This took quite a bit of extra fussing around to nail down, but here it is.
In the Pew study, we read some rather depressing stats about the age of the television news audience. It even popped up kind of steeply in 2007 according to those bar graphs. Median age of 61. Yikes.

This seems like a solid argument against paying much attention to the nets, particularly when you look at the normal census-derived numbers about media voter age -- usually around 45.

But a more subtle analysis looks like this.
And here, you see:

"In 2004 those 18-29 were 21.8% of the population, while those 58-69 were just 13.2%. Add in the 11.5% 70 and up, and you get just 24.7% of "geezers" over 58 vs. 21.8% of "kids". But the sly old geezers know a thing or two about voting. Shift from share of the population to share of the electorate and the advantage shifts to the old: 18-29 year olds were just 16% of the electorate in 2004, while those 58-69 were an almost equal 15.9%. Add in the 70+ group at 13.4% and the geezers win hands down: 29.3% of voters vs 16% for the young. That difference is the power of high turnout. It goes a long way to explaining why Social Security is the third rail of American politics."

It might also explain why nightly news matters.

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