… I would submit that Minnesota’s gubernatorial campaign actually has been relatively solid this year, especially compared to campaigns around the nation.
However, Loveland is pretty specific in his half-praise, for candidates who debated relentlessly and put out unusually specific (if not airtight) budget plans, and for the media that probed the numbers and the factual claims, and covered issues as well as horse race.
I’ve tended to let MinnPost’s reporters dive into the issues this year, while I’ve vetted the fact-checks, poll reporting, endorsements and the new spigot of corporate-media political donations.
When it comes to vetting spin and smears, there have been a few crack-ups (like Fox9 retransmitting innuendo). But overall, it’s impressive how hard political reporters work and how diligently they vet.
Yes, there are differing emphases, and partisans are prone to like some outlets more than others. But despite the profusion of ideological blogs (which have also done a lot of good work), Minnesota mass media lacks a Fox News that foments armed camps.
That’s not to say stories haven’t been missed or underplayed, especially with many mainstream news staffs still shrinking (or resisting).
I know hyper-partisans wonder why there weren’t more pieces that painted Mark Dayton as insane or Tom Emmer as a lunatic. I suspect that all the debates may have sucked up too much reporter time. (Despite Loveland’s arch reference, they don’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath with the words “Lincoln” or “Douglas”.)
Especially if Emmer wins, I wonder if the media covered social issues enough; candidates didn’t talk about them much, but did we give them too much agenda-setting power here? Tom Horner’s campaign has exposed the GOP’s fissures, but Dayton/DFL splits may get more post-election play. For example, should Dayton win, the gap between him and more taxophobic DFL legislators could trash his best-laid plans; this got coverage, but was the point underlined enough?
It’s pretty late in the game, but let’s try the “wisdom of the crowd” here. Readers, what were your “missing” stories?
(Please avoid the really tendentious ones. I might try to find the substantive coverage you may have missed for a future post.)
Assuming you’re not a fan of minor-party candidates, who as usual got nearly no coverage, it’s a little hard to argue with Loveland’s final point:
[W]e have distinct ideological options from which to choose. Dayton offers a traditional liberal approach, Emmer has the most conservative agenda of any Minnesota gubernatorial nominee in our times, and Horner is dishing up an eclectic smorbasbord. While the personalities and leadership styles were not all that we wanted, these candidates offered a broad and distinct range of ideological choices.