Q&A: Why Bloomberg Politics Editor Mike Nizza loves numbers this election season

With only two months left in this election cycle and an audience with a thirst for data, Bloomberg Politics is bringing uniquely numerate storytelling to the political news that matters most to business leaders and agenda-setters. Below, BloombergPolitics.com Executive Editor Mike Nizza exclusively shares Bloomberg Politics’ inspiration for making politics fun- and how to stay ahead of what’s happening.


Mark Halperin (left) and John Heilemann on the set of Bloomberg Television’s With All Due Respect.

Q: This idea of making policy news fun— why is it important?
Historically, politics has been very “inside baseball.” People don’t want to read an entire spending bill – but those types of policy stories can really come alive when you’re talking about what happens in the world when those policies are implemented. Business and thought leaders are specifically interested in what’s being proposed, because it really matters to their business.

Our show With All Due Respect [anchored by Bloomberg Politics co-managing editors and Game Change authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann] was founded on the idea that political coverage can be smart, informative and easily digestible. We want to tell people how to think about the election, not just recite headlines.

“We want to tell people how to think about the election, not just recite headlines.” – BloombergPolitics.com Executive Editor Mike Nizza

Q: Why is focusing on the numbers so crucial right now?
A: This presidential race more than another I can recall is surfacing a daily thirst for actual data. During the primary, there was intense interest in delegates – how many each had was changing pretty frequently because of the complications of the primary system. People needed a true north, and we met that with our Delegate Tracker, which ended up being a constant hit.

Bloomberg is known for data, and there are important pieces of data to watch for during an election. Bringing those two things together was not only natural for Bloomberg, it was also something that our audience recognized almost immediately.

Q: How will that principle come into play in the next two months?
You need to keep candidates honest on what they’re promising, and you also need to think a few steps ahead, to be able to reveal and decode what’s happening. One of our biggest strengths as a journalism outfit is in leveraging Bloomberg Terminal data. Bloomberg specialists are fluent in our proprietary databases for their area of expertise, so we regularly consult with them to understand what the numbers show and how best to explain it to our smart audience. You’ll often see Bloomberg data that we own and created ourselves to underscore the story we’re telling.


Senator Bernie Sanders at a Bloomberg Politics breakfast at the Democratic National Convention. Photograph: Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg 

Q: And Bloomberg Politics Polls are among that original data, right? 
A: Polling is a point of pride for Bloomberg Politics. Having people involved from the beginning like Al Hunt, a Washington institution who may have shepherded more polls than anyone in the world, and Ann Selzer, who made her bones trying to predict the outcomes of the famously complicated Iowa Caucuses and is definitely one of the best pollsters in the nation— I think even our competitors would concede that— is key to getting our finger closest to the pulse of voter sentiment. It’s very difficult to capture a sample of those who will actually vote. I think Bloomberg Politics has been remarkably accurate in forecasting the election so far, and it all goes back to our all-star team.


Bloomberg Politics national poll released August 10, 2016.

Q: You’re telling these data-driven stories on the show, on BloombergPolitics.com, live at the conventions and debates, through interactive graphics – how do you figure out what goes where when covering the road to the White House?

A: We’re focused on getting and breaking exclusive news by reporting on the campaign, but also doing broader pieces that don’t miss answering the bigger questions. Some things are just great video stories, some things are great text stories, but some things are all the above; and when you strike on all the above, that’s when you really win.

“On digital, either you’re spotting something first, or saying something best.”  – BloombergPolitics.com Executive Editor Mike Nizza

On digital, either you’re spotting something first, or saying something best. We address this with a bifurcated homepage – our Campaign Tracker is a rolling feed of short items popping all day long; and on the right you have fewer, but deeper, stories. Then you still have the polling piece, interactive graphics – ways to visualize the election and beyond. It’s going to be fun.

Read More: BloombergPolitics.com 

Follow: @bpolitics.

 – Brittany Bakacs | August 31, 2016