LA Times editor discusses election trends

It was Halloween night and, at 3 a.m., she and a group of reporters were in a bowling alley, waiting to later board a plane on the campaign trail of a political candidate. This was Cal State Long Beach alumna Cathleen Decker’s idea of fun — working 20 hours a day for 14 months while traveling the country on buses and planes.

Decker, who is now the 2012 political campaign editor for the Los Angeles Times, discussed at the Karl Anatol Center last Thursday the changes in elections since her first time covering national elections in 1984 to the present race.

In particular, Decker said the relationship between journalists and candidates has changed.

“You used to have a more human conversation with political candidates,” she said.

Decker said some politicians have made it obvious they are not comfortable around reporters and spoke of the new social media tools candidates were using to alter the traditional route of campaign coverage. Still, Decker added there are shifts in phrases candidates use that reporters know to signify a change in campaign tactics.

Campaign rules and spending has not been left untouched, considering the ruling of Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee that reversed years of laws regulating political contributions made to restrict the amount of money that corporations could give to a campaign. Decker said this ruling is already affecting the 2012 race.

“A lot of [money], where people didn’t know where it came from, will come into play,” Decker said.

The amount of money being spent on the campaign trail is just one of the newer trends of the 2012 race.

Decker said it is hard to tell who will receive the Republican nomination. She said, so far, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has been the luckiest, with his competition “tripping and falling.”

Decker said there are a lot of things that won’t be able to be analyzed until years after the race.

“Sometimes, these things can be best seen in the rearview mirror,” she said.

Decker has been working at the Los Angeles Times since 1978 and graduated CSULB in 1979.


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