What is the psychology behind people and the media's desire to grade Trump on a curve

Faux paus that cause massive headaches for other candidates (Romney, Johnson, etc) are brushed off when Trump commits something similar. Johnson doesn’t know what Aleppo is. Romney mentions “binders full of women”. Why are these major problems for other candidates, but we grade Trump on a curve? “suspected of three rapes” “ties to Russia” “ignorant about nuclear weapons but wants to know why we don’t use them”? Meh. But Johnson not knowing what Aleppo is is newsworthy.

I would assume the media has an incentive to make this into a nail biting horserace. I recall in 2008, it felt like the media was trying to make it anyone’s election, meanwhile I’d follow 538 and realize McCain never had a chance. So the media plays a role I’m sure, trying to make the election seem as close as possible to keep people interested. In order to do that you can’t let one candidates scandals become too heavy, then the race isn’t as close.

Is it just the media that grades Trump on a curve or do the public do. It too?

For the media, they are desperate to present us with a story that is a “horse race”. It’s neck and neck! Tune in tomorrow to see who is ahead! Nobody knows! It’s a nailbiter!

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You nailed it. Horse race.

A 65% Hillary, 35% Trump election would be boring. Better make it 52% ~ 48%.

“The Media” is a rather large conglomerate, ranging from legitimate journalists to clearly slanted outlets with a position to push.

If you’re getting the impression that Trump’s failures are not being talked about, or that the news is showing the election closer than it is, are you sure the problem isn’t that you’re looking at the wrong media?

Here, for example, is the Arizona Republic endorsing Hillary Clinton, and clearly and plainly pointing out why Trump is unfit to serve. Not that they disagree with his policies, but that he, personally, is not a capable grown up. This is a newspaper that has never before endorsed a Democrat in 126 years.

Similar examples abound.

People want to be perceived as fair-minded, and will often bend over backward to avoid accusations of bias. The media is particularly sensitive to such accusations (since, unlike ordinary people, they actually stand to lose money), and, for most media outlets, such accusations are more likely to come from the right than the left. Thus, it makes sense that they would tie themselves in knots trying NOT to seem biased against Trump.

Yeah, it’s the “Liberal” media making it seem closer than it is, in order to get more people to the polls - because the more people that vote, the more likely Democrats will get elected. If people see the race as already tied-up - they will stay home. That and selling ad space.

I think the mentality of the Trump supporter is such that the more outrageous the thing he says, the more discomforted the Democrats become, and the more they show that discomfort - the better the Trump supporter feels. “If it is making Democrats and Progressives squirm, it must be good since I hate Democrats and Progressives”. Never mind that a lot of Trump’s statements are pure lies, falsehoods and fantasy - as long as it makes the other side react, it must be good, and HE must be good, too! That seems to be why normal, intelligent people are able to excuse, or look past, the stuff he says.

Not so much “graded on a curve” as his outbursts being “ignored as irrelevant”, in my opinion. I think Trump support is largely rooted in anti-establishment emotions, with a bit of racist/sexist/extreme-“non-PC” sympathy vote and some “No Democrats at any cost”. So Trump’s outbursts aren’t particularly newsworthy because if you’re voting “for something different”, Trump is your choice since Clinton is an establishment politician. And so you find a way to mentally compartmentalize and ignore all his flaws to get your “something different.”

Trump is a known quantity and has been for years (“telling it like it is”, aggressive attacking/bullying, objectification of women, dubious business practices, etc…), and the Trump outburst-du-jour is hardly going to come as a surprise to anyone. It isn’t particularly newsworthy when Candidate-Who-Says-Awful-Things says yet another awful thing. A lot of these awful things are in fact mentioned, but really, do you expect anything else from Trump?

Outrage fatigue. He’s said so many things to get upset about, that it’s harder to get upset anymore. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, because the early outrage would have killed his chances. But, this year, courting the angry vote and adding the white supremacists was enough to knock out the other Republicans. And then the general election partisanism took over.

Same thing happened with GWB in the debates. He spoke in complete sentences? Stellar performance. Gore sighed? An outrage!

Is Clinton vs. Dole in 1996 the last time the media didn’t push a neck-and-neck horse race narrative?

IMHO, it is appropriate to cut the “newcomer” to politics a bit of slack. Presumably he is bringing in a different kind of expertise than established politicians.

Trump has been granted extraordinary* amounts of slack, for reasons mentioned upthread. I can only hope that it’s enough slack to eventually hang him…

*I can’t think of a normal adjective that describes the amount of slack he’s been granted, “extraordinary” doesn’t quite cut it- maybe I should say “YUUUUUGE”! (Or perhaps I should say “It’s over 9000!”)

I have this theory and it has two components:

The first is that most people have absolutely no idea what the President does on a daily basis. They probably view it as mostly a ceremonial job like the Queen of England where you ride around in motorcades waving at people and giving occasional speeches. Also, you can be a tyrant and make anything you want happen by signing executive orders. And maybe you go to some meetings every once in a while. But basically, it’s like any executive role – you sit around in a fancy office all day while the real workers get the job done.

And that feeds into the second part of my theory, which is that far too many people have seen lots of movies starring Rodney Dangerfield and/or Adam Sandler where the crude, rude, utterly ignorant slob ends up in a fish-out-of-water situation and triumphs over all the hi-falutin’ snobs because he’s got the street smarts that really count. Basically, Delta House always wins. So, crude, boorish, lecherous, idiot Trump is the perfect guy for the job.

They just don’t get the concept that some positions actually benefit from being staffed by highly experienced, highly educated, articulate people and that the Presidency is number 1 on the list.

TL;DR: I probably could just have said “Dunning-Kruger”. People don’t know what the President does, so they think anyone can do it.

Is it just Trump? Romney said 47% of people are never going to vote Republican so they’re not worth bothering with, and that was disastrous. Clinton says that half of Trump voters - so about 25% of adult Americans - are deplorable, and the media basically shrugged it off. Imagine if any other candidate, Democrat or Republican, had said that during another election cycle. There would be seething.

This whole election is so lackluster it feels like the media isn’t coming down hard on anything said by the two front-runners.

I think the media are biased in TWO conflicting directions. (Fox News is a separate case entirely.)

The media are overwhelmingly liberal, but they’re also starved for ratings. Their liberal instincts lead them to trash Donald Trump- but their hunger for ratings drives them to cover him 24/7, to record his every thought, to follow his every Tweet, to trumpet his every inane utterance.

In my opinion, they wanted him to win the GOP nomination, and helped him do so. But now? Now, they want to destroy him as they once built him up, and are finding that it’s not so easy.

Liberal reporters sat on stories that could have undermined Trump during the race for the GOP nomination. SINCE he won the nomination, they have released all those stories… and are horrified to find those stories are NOT hurting him that much in his fight against Hillary.

Sorry, I just don’t buy this. The media is not conspiring to downplay Trump’s idiocies to keep the race close. They are reporting Trump’s idiocies. They’re ripping him for it non stop. What’s happening is that a shocking percentage of the voters don’t care.

Was Romney’s 47% comment “Disastrous?” The fact is that most of his voters cheerfully rolled out and voted for him. Obama won that election by four percentage points; basically, if you had a roomful of 25 voters, 13 voted Obama and 12 voted Romney. It’s self evident that the great, great majority of voters were totally unaffected by the “47 percent” scandal. Either they were already going to vote Obama, or it did not sway them from Romney. He very likely would have lot the election anyway had he not said those words, maybe winning one more state at best.

People LIKE Trump being offensive and bigoted. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature, for a great many voters.

The media is not pushing a “horse race narrative” because they’re being dishonest to earn more money. They’re relating that narrative because it is true.

I find the idea that the media would get together and decide to inflate the underdog just so that they can proclaim a horse race dubious to the point of tin foil hat conspiracy. While I can imagine them claiming that the race is closer than it is, I find it unbelievable that they would plant bias towards the losing candidate to make it so. The reason Trump’s outlandish statements might be criticized less than they deserve is two fold.

  1. The media (largely driven by their viewers) interprets “unbiased” as taking equal time to support of ciricize both sides. So even when they discuss issues that have a definite right answer such as evolution, vaccination, and global warming, they find “experts” on the other side that make it look like both sides have an equally valid argument. Similarly in order to not be seen to be “shills for Hillary” they have to give as much negative airtime to Clinton’s meeting with donors to her foundations they do to the plethora of scandals and inanities coming out of the Trump campaign.

  2. Dog bites man isn’t news while man bites dog is. Trump saying yet another over the top idiotic statement has stopped being news, since it is just more of the same. On the other hand Trump actually getting through a 30 minute speech without insulting someone is remarkable, and news worthy as representing a possibly new Trump. While Clinton describing people as Deplorable is uncharacteristic of her and so news worthy.

In order for a scandal, speaking error, stupid, offensive thing said, to stick to a politician they have to take ownership of the mis-step.

For professional politicians it typically goes something like, said something stupid or incorrect during first news cycle. Second news cycle, apologize and hope that you can put the issue to bed. Third news cycle hope that something else has arisen that will take the place of this issue, if not continue your apologies.

Trump says stupid shit all the time and never takes ownership of it if it become controversial. He just brushes it off and moves on, leaving the media wanting, but not getting the required apology and waffling.

There are rules! And he just won’t play the game, leaving little traction for even his dumbest statements.

He isn’t a politician. I’m not aware he’s ever claimed some kind of moral code - he’s an amoral businessman. You get away with what you can, it’s the essence of capitalism.

Trump voters now exactly what they’re voting for, and it sure as hell isn’t the political class that sold them down the river for decades.

“The media” do report on Trump’s weaknesses. Even Fox News does so. The “liberal” New York Times reports on Clinton weaknesses too.

Having said that, the media tend to focus on only one or two stories at a time. There’s only so many hours per day to fill in so much attention span. In Trump’s case, there are just so many stories to follow you can get lost in that maze. It’s easy for a Trump-leaner to feel fatigue and “here we go again”. Or as Buck Godot points out, Trump doing something moronic is hardly news. Even when we hear it, we don’t really care.

It’s true that the US is very partisan. When a politician does something wrong (for instance, traveling to Argentina to cheat on their wife [Mark Sanford], or getting caught committing fraud [Chuck Rangel]) it might cause them to lose 10% of their usual vote. If you’re in a constituency that votes for your party by a 30% margin, the scandals won’t matter. Those are just two politicians from both parties who have gone through career-“ending” scandals and are basically untouched. (Sanford went from governor to Congressmen, and Rangel lost his Ways and Means chair, so less influence, but still winning elections.)

In such an environment, where Democrats and Republicans can get nearly the same vote totals no matter what, it isn’t surprising that Trump isn’t doing too badly. (Parties fight hard for elections because that small gap between committed voters still determines who wins the Presidency.)

Actually, about 60% of eligible voters vote. If half of those voters are for Trump and half of those fall into the deplorable category, that would be 15% of vote-eligible Americans, what I assume you mean by adult Americans. For the union of racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic voters, 15% doesn’t seem that remarkable.