Every four years since 2000, the online opinion site Slate lets readers see how their staff has voted in the presidential election. It’s a commendable exercise in transparency, especially in a profession where many journalists invariably promote liberal politicians and liberal viewpoints, only to deny their work is influenced by their opinions.
This year, the survey found, not a single Slate staffer voted for President Trump, even though more than 74,200,000 other Americans did — a record haul for a Republican nominee. That compares with 56 staffers who said they voted for Joe Biden (98%), one who picked Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins (2%), and one intern who as of November 2 still hadn’t made up her mind between Hawkins and Biden.
Four years ago, the staff poll showed a similar tilt: 59 votes (97%) for Democrat Hillary Clinton, one for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, one write-in vote for independent candidate Evan McMullin, and none for Donald Trump.
According to this year’s post, “The last time any Slate staffer voted Republican in this survey was for Romney in 2012. Will that be the last time ever? That’s kind of up to the Republican Party more than it’s up to Slate.”
The question is whether Slate is indicative of the broader liberal media establishment. Looking at their coverage, it’s hard to imagine anyone at the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC or any of the broadcast networks voting for Trump, ever. And let’s not forget that Joe Biden won 93% of this year’s newspaper endorsements, vs. just seven percent for Trump.
We can also compare Slate’s tally with surveys of journalists conducted by a variety of scholars and organizations over the past several decades. While some surveyed elite journalists, and others looked at a wider sample that included small-town newspapers, these polls invariably found a massive gap between the media and the public.
The Media Elite surveys in the early 1980s, for example, found 94% of top journalists for Lyndon Johnson in 1964; 86% for Hubert Humphrey in 1968; 81% for George McGovern in 1972 and 81% for Jimmy Carter in 1976. A 1985 Los Angeles Times poll of journalists working at more than 600 newspapers would have handed Walter Mondale a 58%-26% landslide victory over Ronald Reagan, even as the country gave Reagan a 59%-41% landslide over Mondale.
Another survey (Rothman & Black) found 76% of elite journalists voted for Michael Dukakis in 1988, while 91% voted for Bill Clinton. And after George W. Bush won re-election in 2004, the University of Connecticut found journalists working around the country preferred John Kerry over Bush by a wide margin, 52% to 19%.
Those lopsided margins seem only slightly less extreme than earlier Slate surveys showing the magazine’s staff picked Al Gore over Bush in 2000, 76% to 11%; Kerry over Bush in 2004, 87% to 9%; Barack Obama over John McCain in 2008, 96% to 2%; and Obama over Mitt Romney in 2012, 85% to 5%.
This year’s Slate survey also makes it clear that their staff wanted a far more left-wing nominee than Biden, with 77% saying they voted for either Elizabeth Warren (20 votes) or Bernie Sanders (seven votes) in the Democratic primary, vs. 20% for Biden (seven votes) and three percent (just one vote) for former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Here’s a flavor of the staff commentary as each explained their votes (click here for the whole thing):
■ Sam Adams, senior editor: “The entire Republican Party needs to be driven, electorally speaking, into the sea.”
■ Christina Cauterucci, staff writer: “I voted for Joe Biden because the nation and the planet as we know them will not survive another four years under Donald Trump.” (In 2016, Cauterucci explained her vote this way: “I voted with my vagina for Clinton for all the reasons I loved her in the primary...”)
■ Matthew Dessem, nights and weekends culture editor: “I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary because I hoped to avoid spending my old age cruising up and down the coast of Arizona on a rusty Jet Ski, scavenging gasoline and canned food while trying to avoid the Deacon and his gang of murderous thugs....”
■ Shasha Léonard, systems administrator: “Rather than waste my vote in the majority, I’ll be voting for the Green Party, whose platform pushes for progressive policies like ‘Medicare for All,’ canceling student debt and private prisons, etc.”
■ Abby McIntyre, assistant managing editor: “I believe that Black lives matter, climate change poses a serious threat, billionaires should pay more taxes, women have the right to choose, trans rights are human rights, immigrants make our country better, the minimum wage is way too low, health care should be a given, child care should be affordable, science is real, and having a racist, lying, plausibly accused rapist who has used the presidency solely to enrich himself and his family at the expense of American people in the White House is, well, not great.”
■ Laura Miller, books and culture columnist: “Even if Trump weren’t the anti-Christ, I would have voted Democratic like always.”
■ Nitish Pahwa, copy editor: “Sanders is the only national political figure in my lifetime who has pushed hardest and loudest on many issues I’ve long cared about—on addressing civil rights, income inequality, climate change, public benefits for all, our imperialistic foreign policy and interventions, our unjust trade deals — and had the record to back it up.”
■ Asha Saluja, podcast operations manager: “The day after Trump’s election was unthinkably crushing, and there have been many far more crushing days since—the GOP’s evil is metastasizing to make life in this country so bleak.”
■ Aviva Shen, senior editor: “Like many people, I see voting for Joe Biden as harm reduction at best. And in the event of a contested election, I want to maximize Biden’s popular vote count. But further down the ballot, I got to vote for two actual socialists who won Democratic primaries for state legislative seats.”
■ Sofie Werthan, social media editor: “I am not keen on Biden’s moderate positions, and I worry he lacks the courage, vision, and stamina necessary to implement the progressive changes I think this country needs (such as universal health care, racial justice, economic justice, and a proactive plan to address climate change).”