What's wrong with Florida?
This question gets asked a lot -- and not just by Floridians. If you look at the voter registration numbers here and opinion polls, we are effectively an evenly-divided state in terms of party IDs and leaners. Yet, our legislative and congressional representatives -- as well as our policies -- are dominated by reactionary conservatives. Why do we have that disconnect between our voters and everything else?
There are multiple reasons -- some of which will be discussed another day -- but one of the key reasons is that the overwhelming majority of our voters don't get the information they need to make the right decisions. If Florida appears in the national political media, more often than not, it's on Comedy Central and we're the butt of the joke. Actual issues and elections in Florida get little coverage by outside media entities. Local television in Florida doesn't cover Florida politics much more and when they do, it's almost always superficial coverage that provides little useful information to the voters. There are some good local radio stations with legitimate Florida news coverage, but they are few in number and they don't cover much of the state in terms of broadcast area. And the majority of talk radio stations in Florida are conservative and national in scope. The NPR stations I've heard to a pretty good job of covering state and local politics, but it's such a small part of the overall programming they air, it's not enough. A few of the major daily newspapers cover state politics, but few of them do it well. And they are almost all cutting back on their Tallahassee and D.C. offices, if they even have them. The blogs run by some of the major newspapers offer the most frequent and broad coverage of Florida politics, but it's shallow and more focused on process and gossip than on analysis of actual issues and elections in Florida.
So if Floridians don't get their info from the traditional media, where do they get it? Nowhere. The average Florida voter has no real source for learning the important information going on in Florida politics. That's obviously a problem.
And that's where we come in.
More on this tomorrow, as in what we should do about the problem.