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WYPR's Senior News Analyst opines on recent Maryland news.

Media Partly To Blame For State's Large Number Of Undecided Voters

Tom Chalkley

If undecided is still leading in the polls, it’s no surprise.

  The numbers will change as the June 24th primary gets closer. Or will they?

Voters really don’t tune in for elections until the last minute – the last two weeks - for those who really care about their choices. Or, of course, later, as when the voters step up to the computer screen. Most of the time, we must hope, that moment is not the first and only contact they have with the candidates.

But really, what do we expect?

Coverage of the races is less vigorous than ever. Newspapers have fewer reporting resources – and there fewer of them (fewer newspapers, that is). For those diligent voters who wait for the debates, the prospects are no better. One local TV channel, WBAL, may not take a “feed” from Washington’s Channel 4where the first of the confrontations will be held at 7 p.m. May 7th. The prospect alone is lamentable.

The candidates, after all, put themselves in front of the voters with incessant commercials. It’s a big payday for the stations. Shouldn’t the voters have an opportunity to see the candidates outside their comfort zones?

It’s as if the station’s decision is based on polling that shows what could be interpreted as no interest. Surely there are people who want to see the candidates outside their scripted campaign appearances.  We know too little about them. The lack of knowledge stems from a campaign in which one of the candidates seems to have a big lead. He says little or nothing to limit opportunity for damaging mistakes.

We in the media should step up. Isn’t that our job?

Undecided would slip back in the pack if voters knew more.