13 May 2008

Smaller Field Not Yet Helping McCain’s Coverage

Dow Jones Insight Staff

With most now conceding that the presidential election has become a two-horse race, we thought we’d see if the election coverage was beginning to reflect the new reality. One would expect that McCain’s share, which had been low in comparison to the battling Democrats in our previous analyses, would improve in relation to Obama’s, with Obama and McCain focusing more directly on one another. However, that assumption has proved wrong, at least so far.

From May 1 to May 5 – the five days leading up to the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, when Clinton’s chances to win the nomination looked stronger – McCain had 18,265 mentions in all tracked media versus 32,822 for Obama. That translated into a 36% share for McCain versus 64% for Obama (when considering those articles in which one or the other, or both, were mentioned). From May 8 to May 12 – the most recent five-day period since the primaries – McCain has received 13,496 mentions to Obama’s 23,337, for a share of 37%, narrowing the gap by just a single percentage point.

McCain did a slightly better job narrowing the gap when considering headline mentions only, though his overall share of headline coverage was lower than it was for all press mentions. Before the primaries, McCain had 6,660 headline mentions in all tracked sources, or 23% of the total, versus 22,457, or 77%, for Obama. Post-primaries, McCain raised his share to 26%, or 5,061, compared with 14,492, or 74% for Obama, for a three-percentage-point improvement.

Still, the results lead us to wonder if the McCain team either doesn’t think it’s quite over for Hillary or just hasn’t pushed hard against their remaining opponent. Either way, they’re going to have to work harder to get their candidate a competitive share of coverage.

Methodology: Sources 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 blogs; and more than 6,000 message boards.

No comments: