Posts Tagged ‘demographics’

Must Read: Field Poll Look at CA Political Landscape

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

AR71W2A 30-year survey of polling data by the Field Institute shows that both major  parties have declined in support over the past three decades, and while the Democrats’ edge over Republicans has decreased, the most important political trend is the substantial growth in the number of independent voters.

Field also reports that while whites now represent less than half the state’s population, they still dominate the electorate, with non-Hispanic whites representing nearly two-thirds of voters. While Latinos have greatly increased their portion of the population – now 37 % – they vote in significantly lower numbers, making up only 21 percent of the electorate.

A must-read for political junkies, the new report provides a wealth of data offering an in-depth and in-detail view of how California’s demographic landscape has changed since 1978, when Jerry Brown last was governor and Proposition 13 won in a landslide. Compiled and analyzed by Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo and survey founder Merv “The Swami” Field, the report collects and collates data from several sources, including the firm’s most recent statewide surveys, including 9,257 registered voters, and its four state polls in 1978, with 4,072 respondents.

Among its many findings, the poll reports that:

-Once-majority whites are now a minority of the population in California – 43 percent compared to 69 percent in 1978 – but still dominate elections, representing 65 percent of the statewide electorate.

-Latinos are California’s fastest growing ethnic group – 37 percent of the current population, compared with 19 percent in 1978 – but their voter participation rate remains relatively low, representing only 21 percent of the overall electorate.

-Democrats have lost their status as a majority party – they now are 45 percent of registered voters compared to 57 percent 30 years ago – while Republicans have become an even smaller minority – 31 percent today versus 34 percent in 1978. At the same time, voters who decline to state a party preference have more than doubled as a portion of the electorate – growing to 20 percent from 8 percent.

Because the partisan gap between Democrats and Republicans has narrowed over the period measured – 14 percent from 22 percent – conservatives are likely to point to the report and argue that they are picking up strength in the state. The key question, however, is whether the expanding number of independents is more likely to vote the Democratic position on candidates or issues, or the Republican stance.

The answer to that may become clearer when Field releases the second part of its big poll analysis today, tracing changes in voter attitudes on specific issues over the past three decades.

How Newspapers Can Save Themselves

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Alan Mutter is a distinguished journalist and former senior editor of the San Francisco Chronicle who left newspapering in 1988 for a career in business. In 2005, he began a prescient blog warning the industry about the coming dangers of the digital age. With newspapers across the country now closing, going bankrupt and slashing reporting staffs, Mutter’s Reflections of a Newsosaur has become a must-read for journalism professionals, media analysts and news junkies alike. Given the interest Calbuzz readers expressed after our recent post on the decline of newspapers, we asked Mutter for his thoughts on what papers might do to save themselves. He responded with this agenda of practical advice, adapted from a recent post on his blog.

By Alan D. Mutter
Calbuzz Media Correspondent

Newspapers should do everything they can to sustain a profitable print business as long as they can to fund the development of a diversified portfolio of media-agnostic publishing brands. While it is fine for them to produce papers (ideally in outsourced production facilities), they should be equally open to exploiting web, mobile and other delivery platforms. The only factor that should matter is whether the medium is profitable.

Newspapers should leverage their content-creation and marketing resources to create cost-effectively produced niche products geared to carefully selected audiences attracting a sufficiently large group of advertisers to assure commercial success. Newspapers that find it unprofitable to publish on Mondays or Tuesdays (the weakest days for ad demand) should endeavor to develop new weekly niche products to replace them. They may or may not carry the flagship newspaper’s brand.

Newspapers have to abandon their all-but-exclusive dependence on display and classified advertising in favor of modern interactive formats than enable marketers to efficiently target customers on a pay-per-acquisition basis. The new media should include, but not be limited to, contextual advertising, search advertising and Yellow Pages-style directories. Newspapers should be leaders, not followers, in deploying (but not building!) advertising-delivery systems targeted to the demographics, expressed preferences and behavior of consumers.

Because the revenues associated with cost-per-acquisition advertising are going to be lower than the print and online rates typically charged by newspapers, publishers will have to sell advertising to far more small and medium advertisers than they historically have done. Because the value of those orders will be smaller than the schedules purchased by large advertisers, newspapers will have to develop efficient inside sales teams, rather than making the costly in-person sales calls they favored in the past. Telephone sales can be readily outsourced, affording significant cost savings in many cases.

Publishers also can reduce their sales expenses by developing Google-style systems that empower merchants to create, buy and pay for advertising without human intervention. To get there from here, newspapers will have to invest in acquiring (but not building!) the systems to support such services. They also will have to market aggressively their do-it-yourself ad services to both customers and potential customers.

Newspapers should become interactive media consultants, providing content-creation and marketing services to their client base. This would include everything from producing videos and blogs for customers to managing their search-engine optimization and keyword advertising campaigns on third-party sites.

The unlimited distribution of free content has to stop. While teaser snippets may be offered to strategically whet the interest of casual readers who can be turned into paying customers, newspaper companies must reassert their right to be paid for the content they create. It makes no sense to focus on driving page views when banner ad rates are deteriorating because advertisers favor targeted interactive formats whose results can be verified and measured.

With generic news and information freely available on the web, the only way newspapers can successfully charge for content is by creating unique and valuable information. To do this, they have to adequately staff their newsrooms. Starving this vital operation will be strategically disastrous, because weak content will turn off loyal readers and repel new ones.

Newspapers cannot afford to author everything they publish. They must develop compelling content by aggregating and editing data that can be easily and appealingly acquired by consumers who are overwhelmed with too much information. Aggregation sites should be combined with personalization technology and smart ad systems, thus giving consumers control of the user experience and the publisher targeted advertising inventory that can be sold at premium rates. Newspapers also should acquire algorithmic publishing systems to turn government records and other raw data into compelling new products like Everyblock. In each case, the newspaper should buy and not try to build the relevant technology.

Newspapers have to make their sites truly interactive. There is a strong desire among consumers – particularly young ones – to contribute to and comment on the news. Newspapers can leverage the crowd for everything from investigations to self-help forums and from hyperlocal news to restaurant reviews. In developing the portfolio of products suggested above, the middle-aged managers who make most of the business decisions would be well advised to consult young staffers – or students at the nearest high school or university – for insights into the types of products that are likely to fly.