President Trump performed best in the 2016 election in counties where news subscriptions are lowest, Politico reported Monday, based on an analysis of voting results and news subscription data from more than 90 percent of counties nationwide, Alaska excluded.
The study found low news subscription rates correlated with high support for Trump as compared to both his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, and the Republican Party's 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney. The correlation remained statistically significant even after controlling for other potentially explanatory factors, including employment and education.
These results give "new force to the widely voiced concerns of news-industry professionals and academicians about Trump's ability to make bold assertions about crime rates, unemployment, and other verifiable facts without any independent checks," Politico notes, suggesting "Trump did, indeed, do worse overall in places where independent media could check his claims."
The decline of local media outlets like town newspapers — particularly coupled with the rise of social media, which allows Trump to speak directly to his supporters without press interrogation of his claims — "could have made a decisive difference" in some counties' results, Politico concludes. It's a dynamic Trump seems to understand, given his frequent attacks on the press and his recognition that he probably would not be president "if it weren't for social media, to be honest with you."