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November 10, 1984 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-11-10

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OPINION

Page 4

Saturday, November 10, 1984

The Michigan Daily

The need to control early projec

By Jerry Markon
"Ronald Reagan has been re-elected
president of our United States," CBS
anchorman Dan Rather announced
during the network's election coverage
Although not surprising to pollsters who
had predicted a Reagan landslide, and
voters who had mysteriously obliged
them, Rather's words come over the
airwaves at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard
Time - with polls still open in 34 states
and only 3 percent of the vote counted.
West Coast polls would remain open for
another 3 hours, polls in Hawaii and
parts of Alaska for 5!
CBS had based its "projection" not on
solid results but, rather, on those
notorious network exit polls. According
to Thursday's New York Times, the
CBS/New York Times exit polls inter-
viewed only 8,696 voters out of an
estimated 92 million nationwide or an
infinitessimal .00945 percent of the elec-
torate. Not to be outdone, ABC and
NBC soon followed as the networks
competed among one another to project
Reagan's victory. ABC's David
Brinkley declared Reagan the winner
at 8:13 p.m., and NBC, though it had
promised restraint in light of its early
projection in 1980, "generously" waited
until 8:30.
AS I WATCHED this display of network
hysteria unfold, I was repulsed.
Denying so many voters their right to a
free objective choice made a mockery
of America's electoral process. How

many Alaskan, Hawaiian, and West
Coast businessmen getting off work
several hours after these inane projec-
tions actually bothered to vote? How
many local elections were influenced
by this network frenzy to beat the com-
petition? How many potential Mondale
voters standing in line all over America
as the news spread gave up and went
home?
Colorado Senator Tom Wirth said
that in his own congressional district
"news of the network projections
spread like wildfire. Countless voters
left the lines, as was the case in 1980,
when the networks did virtually the
same thing. Those voters had been ef-
fectively told that their votes didn't
matter." Wirth is chairman of a
congressional committee that is
studying the network's election prac-
tices, and persuaded both houses of
Congress to pass "non-binding
resolutions urging the networks to
refrain from calling races until after all
polls had closed."
Obviously, this resolution did not
prove to be very binding. A small post-
election survey, conducted by Dr.
William Adams, professor of ad-
ministration at Georgetown University,
"definitely encountered a number of
people who said that the projections
had a decisive influence on their
decision not to vote." More hard
evidence is difficult to obtain, but
Washington Secretary of State Ralph
Munro believes the issue will be raised
in Congress again and probably in the

14
I
lions
primary source of information. Far
more scary, however, is the potential
impact of projections on a closer elec-
tion. John Kennedy's victory over
Richard Nixon in 1960ywas soclose that
in my hometown of Chicago, people still
say Kennedy won only because loya
democratic workers threw a few
thousand Nixon ballots into the Chicago
river. With today's technology,
pollsters may have been able to
forecast the winner, even as the vote
count stayed close (just as they
forecast Carl Levin the winner in the
Senate, even though Jack Lousma was
leading throughout much of the
evening).
How can this awesome power to in-
fluenceelectionsabe tamed? Does any
attempt at regulating media excess
violate freedom of the press? These are
serious questions, and I certainly can-
not provide conclusive answers. But
there can be no doubt that something
must be done. The issue is not really
the exit polls themselves since they do
provide helpful data about voter trends
and composition.
Perhaps the networks could simpl
be required to withhold the data unti
the day after the election. It's value for
researchers would still remain, and it
would not exert such a powerful control
on Americans' minds. One thing is cer-
tain: if this trend continues to its
frightening conclusion, the American
people may as well just let the networks
pick the President.
Markon is a Daily staff reporter.

Associated Press

The networks' election projections have a demonstrable effect on voter turnout.

courts. He summarized perfectly the
implications of the network projec-
tions: "It's terrible. People are
heading home and suddenly they know
it's over. Why go vote?"
UNDOUBTEDLY, the network policy
could not have changed the fact of
Reagan's victory, but it unquestionably
could have affected the size of his lan-

dslide. In a year where talk of a
"realigning election" predominates, a
far bigger Reagan landslide could be,
and in fact already has been, inter-
preted as a mandate for Reagan's long
term goals - a frightening thought for
any sensible American. In addition,
local races throughout the country
could be effected. People may be more

inclined to vote for Republican can-
didates, and consitituencies of local
Democrats who couldn't vote until late
in the day might be more inclined to
stay home.
The power of television is
unquestionable: recent surveys have
concluded a full two-thirds of
Americans regard the tube as their

A

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCV, No. 57

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

A successful forum

INSTEAD OF heading to the bar or
the library on Thursday night,
around 300 students traipsed over to
Angell Hall to hear President Harold
Shapiro, Prof. Martin Gold, and Eric
Schnaufer speak out about the
proposed code for non-academic con-
duct. This prompted Gold, chairman of
the University's Civil Liberties Board,
to note that he hadn't seen the
auditorium filled with so many studen-
ts since the first teach-in on Vietnam.
While the forum on the code didn't
seem to settle any of the disputes bet-
ween the Michigan Student Assembly
and the administration, the big fur-
nout proved that students are in-
terested in educating themselves on
this crucial issue. Praise goes out to all
those students who attended.
Not only did students take the time
out to go to the code forum, but the
students who went made a real effort
at pinning Shapiro down on the
reasoning behind the code. Student
questioners forced Shapiro to admit
that even though the code wasn't for-
mulated to quash civil disobedience, it
would definitely crack down on those
who protested University policy by, for
instance, staging sit-ins in professors'
laboratories. Students questioning
Shapiro were also able to find out for
themselves that he didn't have any ex-
tremely convincing reasons for

deciding to implement a code. For
example, although Shapiro said cam-
pus safety was not "a big issue" in
developing a code, every incident he
cited to show a need for the code was
safety-related. What are the real
reasons?
What the forum didn't do was clear
up the roadblock in negotiations bet-
ween MSA and the administration.
Schnaufer, chairman of MSA's code
committee, said that MSA wouldn't
discuss making any changes in the
code until Shapiro promised not to
ignore MSA's vote on the guidelines. Of
course, Shapiro refused to be
pressured by the assembly and would
not agree to this pre-condition to
negotiations. In other words, nothing
new was accomplished.
Though MSA and the administration
don't seem any closer to reaching an
agreement on the code, overall the
forum has to be labelled a success. Any
meeting which can draw 300 students
away from the bars, homework, and
nighttime television to debate issues
which directly affect them is laudable.
The campus needs more forums such
as this. Student leaders shouldn't be
the only ones making decisions about
the code, each student should contem-
plate the issue on his or her own and
reach an educated decision.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY

Pro-m
To the Daily:
Deeply disturbed and saddened
by the recent events in India, I
felt compelled to share my
thoughts with your readers.
I think the pro-militant Sikhs
living in the United States,
Canada andhGreat Britain are
perhaps cowards of the first or-
der. It is easy for them to com-
mend a hasty, foolish act that
unleashes a tidal wave of com-
munal hatred and anger against
their kinsmen in India. Those
people are nowhere near the
direct line of fire. Do you think
the average Hindu-on-the-street
would not have heard about these
celebrations? Wouldn't that have
only further clouded his
judgement?
To a small extent, the Sikh
community has precipitated
public anger in India on itself. I
realize that a majority of Sikhs
are moderate, and want and are
no part of the radical militants
rounded up by the late Bindran-
wala. Yet they have long been
silent, not speaking up against
the militants. Whether they were
silenced at gun point by these
militants is immaterial. Their
silence has led many Hindus to

still is one in view of the recent from ignorance lea
riots) and the lack of judgement I close my letter with this sin- hail Peace, Peace
and sanity of the Hindus, we have cere prayer, which is a tran- -Anup
successfully landed ourselves in slation of a Sanskrit prayer:
Position on symposium clarified

ad us to wisdom,
,Peace!
ama Srinivasan
November 5

To the Daily:
Stacey Shonk's article, "LSA-
SG pulls speaker's funds" (Daily,
November 7), inadequately por-
trays LSA Student Government's
stand. Slocum contends
that while the group used a title
which LSA-SG was not aware of,
the substance of their symposium
has not been altered. He con-
cludes, therefore, that the event
is still entitled to our endor-
sement and funding. What
Slocum fails to appreciate is that
when his group decided to change
the title of their symposium, they
implicitly changed the nature of
their event. In this case, it is im-
possible to disassociate the con-
tent of the package from its
BLOOM COUNTY

wrapping.
When deciding whether or not
to fund student organizations,
LSA-SG has a list of priorities to
which it adheres. The list is
divided into three categories:
membership/involvement, pur-
pose, and financial status
available funds. The program's
title, "Palestine.. . Zionism and
Racism", effectively dissuades
many students from attending
this "educational experience".
The number of LSA students affec-
ted is high on that list. We now
believe this symposium to be one
of a political nature which is of
low priority. Finally, because of
this misrepresentation, LSA-SG
feels strongly that what the group
required was not so much our

funding, but rather th
legitimacy our endorsemen
carries.
The LSA-SG Constitution's
operating procedures state, "All
funds appropriated should be for
a specific purpose. Funds not
used for that purpose will be
returned to LSA-SG." For all of
the above reasons, the title
change manifests that the sym-
posium's outcome is not what
LSA-SG originally supported
Therefore, LSA, of its own ac-
cord, voted to rescind the group's
funding and endorsement.
-Eric Berman
November 8
Berman is president of LSA
Student Government.
by Berke Breathed

ilitant Sikhs lack judgement4
voice, it is heading for trouble. the vicious circle of you-killed- From falsehood lead us to truth,
Thanks to the silence of the mine-I-kill-yours communal from darkness lead us to light,
moderate Sikh majority (if there hatred. from death lead us to immortality,

1 KNOW Htie
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1,1"A u Cllr-4 AL9 L: !! r

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