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Surprise at Obama’s victory illustrates growing partisan divide in US media

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Sabrina Schaeffer/The Daily Progress/AP

(Read caption) Republicans watch Fox News for election updates during the Albemarle County Republican Committee's watch party at the DoubleTree Tuesday in Albermarle, Va.

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The big media story emerging from President Obama’s reelection is the fact that so many on the right were so stunned by the results.

Social media were abuzz with shock and dismay at what many conservatives felt was a last-minute reversal of the prolific positive predictions they had been hearing.

More than a few conservative commentators, including prominent pundits such as George Will, had been predicting that Mitt Romney would take more than 300 electoral votes in a landslide election on Tuesday.

At the same time, statistical blogger Nate Silver at The New York Times and survey aggregator Real Clear Politics were citing polls that showed Mr. Obama with a clear lead.

But, rather than the purportedly surprising election results reflecting some national subversion of the voting process, many political scientists and other analysts say this right-wing upset is dramatic evidence of a growing partisan divide in our media.

Increasingly, the public consumes media that reinforce personal views rather than give actual information about the world, says University of San Francisco political scientist Corey Cook.

“The biggest story of this election is the stories that were being told about the election,” says Professor Cook, adding, “the two sides had very different views heading into the election night.”

Fox News Channel, on the one hand, he points out, repeatedly drove home the idea that Romney was headed for a huge victory nabbing more than 300 electoral votes, while the other side was saying that calculation included states that were not even in play.


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