When the news broke earlier this week that state rep. Kyle Tasker had been charged with felonies related to drugs, guns, and luring a minor online for a sexual encounter, many in New Hampshire asked the question, "How did he get elected?"
As part of a new segment focusing on digital stories at NHPR.org, Weekend Edition host Brady Carlson talks with Digital Director Rebecca Lavoie about the news that stood out online this week and what NHPR's readers were sharing on social media.
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Brady: So what stories were people following on the web this week?
Rebecca: It was an interesting week for news, Brady. One thing worth noting is that our most-read stories are usually the same stories people want to share the most on Facebook, Twitter, or reddit, and in that category, there were two that stood out - both tied to the statehouse.
Earlier this week, lawmakers debated a controversial bill proposing making going topless a crime, and then on Wednesday, that big news story broke that Kyle Tasker, a Republican state representative from Nottingham, had been arrested and charged with several felonies relating to drugs and the use of his computer to connect for an encounter with a minor who, of course, turned out to be a cop.
And what did people say about those stories - aside from the obvious shock or concern or disgust that comes with these kinds of allegations?
Well as you know, our audience tends to ask slightly more probing questions than that, and one I saw over and over again this week was, "How are these folks getting elected, and who's voting for them?"
And, as it happens, this is a question we can actually answer - at least in part. Recently we created a database of all New Hampshire elections dating back to 1970 and made it available on NHPR.org. I used the database to search the elections Kyle Tasker won. In 2014, he finished on top - getting the most votes of the three GOP candidates who won seats in his district - with more than 3000, or over 20% of the vote. And back in 2012, he also came in first with nearly 3,500 votes, or 18.5%. So, what that tells us is, Kyle Tasker had some solid support - so it wasn't by happenstance or some fluke that he became a state rep.
You can go into the database and see how anyone, past or present, got elected?
They sure can. You know, part of our thinking on the web side of our newsroom isn't just to post and share the news of the day, but to create ways to provide context, and sometimes that means making a tool anyone can use to answer questions like this.
NHPR's Rebecca Lavoie, thanks so much.
Thank you, Brady. Here are the results of Rebecca's database search on Rep. Kyle Tasker's vote counts in 2012 and 2014. You can search the database and find the vote count for any elected official in the state right here.