Hooking This Week’s Cliche

Every few weeks, campaign reporters go fishing for the new new thing — that elusive cluster of voters with a single common trait who might swing the election. NASCAR Dads and Soccer Moms were the early favorites, but more recently Strip Club Dads have had their fifteen minutes, as have “Sex and the City” voters (single women), and Howard Stern listeners are still enjoying an extended moment in the spotlight. Today, The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin reels in what she figures to be a new group of “significant players in the presidential election”: “the ‘hook and bullet’ crowd.”

Eilperin makes hunting and fishing folk — the “huge voting bloc that often judges candidates on sportsmen’s issues” — sound like mighty tempting prey for both campaigns. There are nearly 50 million hunting and fishing enthusiasts in the U.S., Eilperin reports, with “hooks” outnumbering “bullets” 34.5 million to 13 million. Moreover,”93 percent of registered hunters voted in 2000,” and many live “in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Arkansas,” and although they “lean Republican, nearly a third are independent … leaving ample room for political appeals.”

It seems all but certain that more news outlets will pursue this bait in coming days and weeks. For, although Eilperin quotes one Chris Wood, vice president for conservation at Trout Unlimited, as warning that “this is not a monolithic community,” we have every confidence that there are hungry reporters out there who are willing to treat them as such.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.