I mean that 6 of our 10 national newspapers backed the Tories, whilst only one and a half each backed Labour. But voters behaved very differently.
Weighted by circulation, 74.8% of the press backed the Tories, but only 36.1% of voters did. Only 13.3% of the press backed Labour, whilst 29% of voters did so. And 4% of the press backed the Lib Dems, but they got 23% of the vote.
Millions of voters, then, largely ignored the papers.
Nor did TV fare better. The Economist greeted the “Cleggstacy” triggered by the first TV debate as “a triumph for old media.” But of course, in the end the Lib Dems share of the vote was only a percentage point higher than in 2005. So much for the power of television.
Now, I’m not saying that the failure of the old media to sway voters represents a triumph for the new media - there’s not much evidence for this. Nor am I going to go misty-eyed about the wisdom of the people. I’m just posing a question I’ve asked before and which hasn’t been satisfactorily decided: just how much real influence upon people does the media have?