The Road to the Senate

With less than a week to Election Day, only NBC looked at the Senate power struggle and its effects on the new president’s ability to govern — or not.


NBC Nightly News

The network covered the races that could determine which party would control the Senate. The report noted how the candidates tied their opponents to the top of the ticket.

It noted that wins by Marco Rubio, Joe Heck, Roy Blunt and Richard Burr would assure Republican control and, in contrast, how women like Maggie Hassan, Katie McGinty and Tammy Duckworth could lead a Democratic victory. NBC spent more than two minutes on the Senate races.

ABC and CBS did not cover Senate races on Nov. 2.

Rather, CBS spent almost four minutes listening to a panel of millennial voters as part of its Campaign 2016 series, Closing Arguments. Millennials — conservative and liberal — discussed civil rights, on which they were divided, and student debt, on which they were not.

Over $344 million were invested into the top five Senate races. With so much at stake, should the networks make time to cover the Senate power struggle?

Journalist Hooman Majd said: “I do think the Senate races are important enough for the networks to carry coverage of them. Especially in a year like this, when potentially the first female president of the U.S. could face a Congress fundamentally opposed to everything she wants to do and ends up sabotaging a historic presidency.”

CBS covered millennials; NBC covered the Senate races — which is more important?

“It is more important to cover the Senate (and House of Representatives) than it is to discuss millennials,” Majd said. “Discussion of a voting block — and probably the baby boomers are actually more relevant in terms of voting power — could easily happen in other broadcasts so that time is not taken away from the nightly network news show, which is short enough already.”

The Democratic Party picked up only two Senate seats on election night, remaining in the minority.

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