08 July 2008

Obama Maintains Clear Lead over McCain in Media Mentions

By Glenn Fannick
Dow Jones Insight Staff

Barack Obama continues to be the candidate to beat as he goes week after week with more coverage than John McCain.

Not surprisingly, for much of the primary season, McCain took a back seat to the excitement of the race between Obama and his then rival Hillary Clinton. When Clinton stepped out of the spotlight, we started looking closely at the Obama-McCain tallies, expecting the numbers would get closer during the dog days of summer campaigning. And the numbers have tightened; but in most cases only modestly.

Over the past month, McCain has closed the gap, but he’s still maintaining his self-proclaimed “underdog” status when it comes to his count of individual mentions in the mainstream press and across social media, according to analysis conducted using Dow Jones Insight.

The basic measure of this is through total media mentions. In the seven-day period ending July 7, Dow Jones Insight tallied 90,882 mentions of either candidate across all media types. Obama racked up 56% of those mentions to McCain’s 44%.

Looking at a subset of the U.S. media – just newspapers and broadcast outlets in the Red States, Blue States and Swing States – we see a closer race. The analysis shows 54% for Obama and 46% for McCain in each of these three groups. In the past these numbers have always been close, but this is the first time we've noticed they are in lock-step, demonstrating to us that the media are on the whole not being swayed by the the voting tendancies of their audience.

When one considers just message boards and blogs, the numbers typically lean more toward Obama, though this week McCain cut three percentage points off Obama’s lead, making the social media breakdown 57% for Obama and 43% for McCain.

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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