Does the Election Matter to Investors? CNBC Doesn’t Think So

'Shark Tank' trumps minimum wage votes and economic debates

Midterm election results are the big item of discussion today, and there’s a lot of speculation on what the vote means for the economy and the stock market.

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CNBC’s Election Night programming included “Shark Tank.”

Minimum-wage increases were approved in five states. And despite what appears to be an improving economy, Democrats got no love as they lost control of the Senate and GOP governors swept into a few traditionally blue states.

So what does all this mean for investors and businesses?

Apparently not much, according to the dead air on CNBC last night.

CNBC pretty much threw in the towel in terms of news coverage, opting for Shark Tank reruns instead of covering a midterm election that many saw as a referendum on the current American economy and President Barack Obama’s business and tax policies.

Remember, the acronym CNBC was born out of the title “Consumer News and Business Channel.” Consumers and businesses had a lot at stake last night, as minimum-wage votes and economic policy debates showed, but the network was missing in action.

Instead, CNBC continued to push entertainment and reality TV offerings in primetime rather than cover the election.

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Meanwhile, Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto was up late broadcasting election results live.

That’s in stark contrast to other biz outlets like Bloomberg TV or the Fox Business Network, which dedicated big-time resources to election night. And excuses about the mothership of NBC News covering the vote don’t cut it; Consider FBN anchor Neil Cavuto, who was up late into the night broadcasting live despite the big dog of Fox News offering up its own coverage just a few clicks down the dial.

I’m not trying to hang CNBC out to dry here. It’s obviously hard for everyone in financial media these days, given the general mistrust of Wall Street and the continual declines in stock ownership rates.

But there appears to be more than just a secular decline in investment news at work here. CNBC ratings are at the lowest levels since 1997 … and the network doesn’t appear to be putting up much of a fight to remain relevant outside of its conventional programming during market hours.

That’s assuredly one way to go. I know lots of folks who still have Squawk Box or Fast Money on near their desks as a matter of course throughout the trading day, and keeping these loyal viewers is probably very important.

But CNBC is facing a serious challenge looking outside its core customer during the trading day. And big events like the 2014 midterm elections could be opportunities to think outside the box.

Of course, perhaps the airing of Shark Tank was more than just an attempt at filler. Maybe CNBC is trying to more more toward this kind of stuff instead of substantive financial news coverage.

For the sake of people who work for the network, however, I sure hope that’s not the case.

Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks. Follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP.


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