30 April 2008

Faithfully Talking about Obama

By Glenn Fannick
Dow Jones Insight Staff

The question of faith – who has enough or too much of it – has become a dominant issue for Obama in the mainstream media. That’s even more the case in the often-polarized blogosphere, but the allure of faith, driven by Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, seemed to impact the press more this week than bloggers, according to analysis of data gathered in Dow Jones Insight.

For the past 90 days the issue of faith has been attached more to Obama than it has to Clinton and McCain in the mainstream media (26% of all mentions of Obama contained some reference to the concept of faith, while only 21% each of McCain’s and Clinton’s did).

With everyone’s attention this week again focused on Wright, the press’s coverage of faith as a percentage of all issues covered went from 23% (549,000 candidate-faith mentions versus 2.43 million total candidate-issue mentions) over the past 90 days to 26% in the last 7 days. Obama’s percentage of faith mentions increased from 26% to 33%, while Clinton’s went up 4 percentage points to 25% and McCain’s went down 3 percentage points this week to 18%.

Summary Table 1: Mainstream Media Coverage - ‘Faith” by Candidate

Those in blogs and boards seemed to obsess about it less, though, during the past 7 days. Faith was mentioned with Obama 47% of the time to Clinton’s 29% and McCain’s 30%. This is down from the last 90 days, in which 52% of all issues being discussed with Obama had some mention of faith (to McCain’s 38% and Clinton’s 36%).

Summary Table 2: Blog and Board Coverage - ‘Faith” by Candidate

Note: Sources in this analysis include more than 6,000 newspapers, wires, magazines, radio and TV transcripts; more than 13,000 current awareness news Web sites; 2 million of the most influential bloggers; and more than 6,000 message boards.

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