All three partisan groups are at 20-year lows, but good lord, look at that drop among Republicans. GOP faith in the media sinks reliably during election years, as the dips in 2008 and 2012 demonstrate, but … 14 percent? That cuts the previous modern low set four years ago nearly in half. We’re approaching congressional-job-approval levels of stinkiness here.
Gallup missed an opportunity by not following up with questions designed to suss out which aspects of this year’s coverage are bothering people, especially Republicans. I assume the lion’s share of the irritation on the right is due to overt media bias against Trump. The press is always more candid in showing its ideological leanings in an election year since there’s more at stake, which explains why Republican confidence in them reliably dips. This year, though, the warnings about Trump have been more urgent — it’s not the usual “Romney will take us back to a dark age of, gulp, lower federal spending” but more like “Trump will take us back to a dark age of, gulp, actual Nazism.” Apart from the Hannitys and Bollings on Fox, it seems as though there’s not a reporter anywhere who believes Trump is even qualified to be president, let alone that he might be preferable to Clinton. Viewers sense it.
The follow-up questions would have been nice, though, to see if there’s any element on the right that’s annoyed with the media for being too soft on Trump in the primaries. A majority of GOP primary voters supported other candidates; even those who have come around to grudgingly supporting Trump now may be annoyed that the press gave him so much free coverage in the winter and spring, leaving us stuck with him as nominee. There may be a smaller group within that group that’s annoyed specifically with conservative media for shilling for Trump, which would further depress overall Republican views of the media. As a Cruz supporter, I’ve grumbled plenty myself about Fox News going face-first into the tank for Trump during crunch time in March and April of this year. All of which is to say, if you’re a Trumper, you have good reason to hate the media. If you’re anti-Trumper, you have good reason to hate the media. Maybe the surprise here is that the Republican numbers aren’t lower.
Interestingly, among other groups that have seen declines lately in their trust in media, the 18-49 group has fallen off more sharply than either Democrats or independents have. Dems are down four points since last year, indies are down three, but the 18-49ers are down 10 — which is curious, since younger Americans skew a bit more Democratic. If you’re expecting to see a steep drop in the different age groups, you’d expect it in older voters since they skew more Republican. They’re down seven points since last year, to 38 percent now; the 18-49 group, after their 10-point drop, is down to 26(!). Some of the 18-49 decline is due to overlap with Republicans, of course, but as for the rest, it may be that young liberals are irritated at the media for having treated Hillary as the inevitable winner in the primaries (which, in fairness, she really was) despite some strong wins by Bernie Sanders. In other words, it may be an odd left/right coalition of the disgruntled that’s driving down the numbers in younger adults more so than any disaffection in the center.
Still two months to election day, which means it’s going to get worse before it gets better. In lieu of an exit question, via the Free Beacon, here’s Sean Hannity showing off some of the karate moves he’s going to use to beat #NeverTrumpers’ asses if his leader ends up losing the election in November after all.