18 June 2008

McCain Still Struggling to Get as Much Press as Obama

By Glenn Fannick

Dow Jones Insight Staff

Will McCain ever catch up to Obama in media coverage? For months it seemed he was often relegated to the inside pages and mentioned fewer times or in shorter pieces as the media and the public focused on what was called a historic race between Clinton and Obama. The McCain team recognized their struggle to be noticed, announcing a push in April to get him back in the media's sights. It failed. His coverage remained flat.

It was Clinton’s continued candidacy, people assumed, that was keeping McCain tomorrow's story. As soon as she dropped out, his camp certainly hoped McCain would be getting equal billing.

And to some extent we are seeing things change. Obama's media lead has been shrinking a bit in the past week or so; but with two weeks since the Democratic primaries ended and 10 days since Clinton officially ended her campaign for the presidency, the numbers still show Obama ahead of McCain in virtually every way we slice the numbers.

Dow Jones Insight tracked 54,920 mentions of the two candidates' names over the past seven days from about 20,000 mainstream (print and online) media sources. Obama accounted for about 56% of those mentions compared to McCain's 44%. In the two million social media sites analyzed, Dow Jones Insight found Obama’s lead a few percentage points narrower, however, with 55% of total mentions for Obama compared to 45% for McCain.

The only place McCain seems to be talked about more is on the talk shows on MSNBC, where he consistently outpaces the Democrats in individual mentions. The other networks analyzed (Fox News Channel and CNN) continue to talk about Obama more than McCain on their regular political shows.

If you compare the quality of coverage of the two candidates in all media, you see perhaps a more telling picture. While McCain is slowly closing in on Obama in the number of times each is mentioned, a larger gap exists when you look at headline mentions. Obama was mentioned in 16,196 headlines in our survey from June 11 to 17, while McCain had only 9,264 mentions – a 64% / 36% split.
Methodology: Mainstream press sources include more than 6,000 newspapers, wires, magazines, radio and TV transcripts and more than 13,000 current-awareness news Web sites. Social media sources include 2 million of the most influential blogs and more than 60,000 message boards.

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