How the Media Frames Politics and Elections

A horse race is a contest of several competitors, each with equal chances to win. The term is applied to business as well as political competitions. For example, a horse race in the Democratic primary may pit Sanders against Clinton. The media often frames elections as a horse race, reporting on public opinion polls and providing positive coverage to frontrunners and underdogs who gain momentum. Media scholars have long studied this strategy to better understand its impact on voter perceptions of politics and elections.

Horse racing has a long history and is practiced in many countries. It is a popular spectator sport and a key part of the economy, generating billions of dollars in bets every year. It is also a source of entertainment and has been featured in popular culture, including in movies and TV shows. The practice has even shaped religion, as it is central to Norse mythology.

As the earliest races were match races between two or three horses, the owners provided the purse and bettors agreed to “play or pay.” Bets were made on the outcome of each race by disinterested third parties called keepers who recorded the agreements in a book that came to be known as the Racing Calendar.

Despite their size, racehorses can be vulnerable to injury. They run fast and give their lower legs a brutal beating on the oval tracks, straining tendons and ligaments. As a result, most racehorses need encouragement to continue running hard when they are tired. To do so, their riders put on a heavy blue hood to keep them focused on what’s in front of them and a shadow roll across their noses to reduce the number of reflections they see on the track.

At the start of the Preakness, Mongolian Groom’s lower hind legs jerked as he cleared the gate. Then he stopped, as if he was frightened or angry. His rider, Abel Cedillo, a journeyman from Guatemala, encouraged him to go on. But he balked again.

When a horse balks, bettors assume that the animal is frightened or angry and will likely stop trying. They then reassess their wagers. The naysayers, however, point out that horses who balk are often merely exhausted or have been injured in the race and need time to recover.

The equine business has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, with an increasing number of people arguing that horse racing needs fundamental reforms. These changes must include better monitoring of race injuries, improving animal welfare and preventing money laundering. The passing of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act in 2020 was a milestone, but the implementation of that law is being stymied by lawsuits and legislative efforts to undermine it.

Proponents of the horse race approach to CEO succession say that an overt contest among multiple senior executives demonstrates the board’s faith in its management, its leadership development processes and its people. The process signals that the board is committed to identifying high performers early, grooming them through a succession of critical roles and testing their skills in more demanding positions. Ultimately, such a system should produce a strong leader with the right mix of competencies and experience for the company’s current and future challenges.