Accuracy in Media

NBC News recently published an pre-2020 presidential election analysis, headlined, “Re-election runway: What U.S. airports can tell us about Trump’s 2020 chances,” and sought to analyze the potential influence or impact of U.S. airports on the 2020 presidential election.

The analysis attempted to bridge the main narratives from the 2016 election, that rural America voted overwhelmingly for Trump and not Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton, by comparing airport location, how those areas voted in 2016, and whether the airport had domestic or international flights played a part in voting. NBC News also ignored the importance of suburban voters, specific demographics which led to the “blue wave” 2018 midterm election results, and swing states and districts, in their analysis.

NBC News’s categories are as follows:

  • “Global Metros: Roughly 41 percent of the country’s electorate resides in large metropolitan statistical areas served by airports with at least two regularly scheduled flights to destinations outside North America. Examples include Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Minneapolis and Seattle.”
  • “International Metros: Another 14 percent of the country’s electorate resides in metropolitan areas served by airports with at least one regularly scheduled international flight but fewer than two transcontinental flights. Examples include Indianapolis, New Orleans, Nashville, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Raleigh and San Antonio.”
  • “Regional Metros: Another 31 percent of the country’s electorate resides in metro areas served by airports featuring service from at least one of America’s four largest domestic carriers — American, Delta, United or Southwest — but no international flights. Examples include Des Moines, Flint, Toledo, Buffalo, Pueblo, Erie, Little Rock and Spokane.”
  • “Non-metro areas: Lastly, 14 percent of the country’s electorate resides in counties defined as non-metropolitan by the Census Bureau. These rural areas make up the majority of the population in states like the Dakotas, Vermont and West Virginia, but they comprise a much smaller share of the population in most larger states.”

Interestingly enough, the NBC News analysis discovered that the political divide is growing larger than in 2016. For example, in the “Global Metros” areas, Trump’s support is dipping, but the share of the electorate is centered in primarily blue states and is not evenly distributed to have an electoral impact in 2020. The same issue goes for “International Metros.” Both the global and international metro categories are large cities and their outlying suburbs, which tend to be Democratic Party strongholds.

Additionally, Democratic Party support is “backsliding” in the “Regional Metros,” or smaller cities and suburbs. NBC News pointed out that these areas “could be near the tipping point of the Electoral College.” The analysis, after drumming up much hoopla over airport locations and whether airports have domestic or international flights, admitted that Trump could win re-election in 2020 because the Democratic Party continued to ignore the Midwestern base, or the more politically-moderate voters in America’s heartland. It concluded, “For now, Democratic presidential primary candidates are drawing enthusiastic crowds to rallies in places like New York, Seattle, Austin and San Francisco. But to beat Trump, Democrats will need to ask themselves which candidates’ proposals will fly in Erie, Saginaw and Green Bay.”

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