horse-race journalism
n. Media coverage that focuses on poll results and political battles instead of policy issues.

Example Citations:
[O]ne reason the substance of policy is not communicated is that reporters carry over to their coverage of government the campaign mind-set of horse-race journalism. Process stories predominate, and the emphasis is on who is gaining or losing, not on what is being done.
—David S. Broder, "War on Cynicism," The Washington Post, July 6, 1994

Charest’s unveiling of the key plank in his platform — his health-care proposals — ran a very poor third on a splendid day of uproar for the media. It looks like it‘s going to be one of those campaigns: horse-race journalism fed by constant polling, competing sound bites from the leaders, preparations to pounce on a gaffe, real or imagined, and no reporting worth the name of what the parties actually stand for.
—Norman Webster, “Chretien should keep quiet,” The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec), October 31, 1998

Earliest Citation:
Pollster Daniel Yankelovich criticizes what he calls horse-race journalism, which he thinks explains why most newspapers misuse polls.
—Michael Wheeler, Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics, W W Norton & Co Inc, June 1, 1976

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