06 March 2008

Language Describing Candidates Moves Negative then More Positive

By Glenn Fannick
Dow Jones Insight staff

The mainstream media's coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign has inched toward negativity during the past 2 1/2 weeks then swung back toward more positive language after mini-Tuesday.

This 2 1/2-week period started the week before Clinton appeared on Saturday Night Live, spoofing the media's lack of gumption in investigating Obama.

This mini analysis was arrived at by consulting the automated favorability analysis in Dow Jones Insight. The system considered 65,374 press documents and found 26,435 of them to contain either favorable or unfavorable language dominating in reference to a candidate.

Comparitively, across all coverage that was not neutral, we found:

  • Week 1: Feb 17. to Feb. 23, Obama's coverage was 24% to Clinton's 22% and McCain's 21%.

  • Week 2: Feb. 24 to Mar. 1, the one after SNL and before mini-Tuesday, coverage was overall more unfavorable, with Obama's positive coverage at 16%, Clinton's at 14% and McCain's at 13%.

  • Then this (partial) week, Mar. 2 to Mar. 6, including the coverage of the days right before the Ohio-Texas primaries and the immediate aftermath, we see more favorable language emerging. Clinton and Obama were evenly getting 21% favorable language with McCain and his nomination-clinching week moving past them to 24%.

    Methodology: This analysis is of English-language documents only and was generated by software-based analysis which has been shown to be 80% accurate in similar corpora. Favorable and unfavorable ratings are assigned based on the words found in close proximity to a candidate's name. All neutral documents were excluded. The remaining 26,435 documents are those with discernible favorability. The source set excludes social media and press releases and includes global English language newspapers, magazines, broadcast transcripts and newswires.

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