08 July 2008

When Considering only Policy Issues, the Numbers Start to Even Out

By Glenn Fannick
Dow Jones Insight Staff

Certainly not all mentions of candidates’ names are ones the campaigns are pleased to see. So it follows that more is not always better; and saying "Obama leads McCain in media mentions" doesn't paint the full picture.

Obama does seem to continue to garner a lot of coverage about what we consider to be non-substantive issues – talk of his faith, his race, his fundraising and his wife. During the seven days ending July 7, Obama saw 13,591 of his mentions being in context of one of these four discussions. McCain had his name mentioned in the context of one of these, half as many times (6,910 mentions).

Overall, the picture continues to favor Obama, but when looking only at mentions of the candidates in the context of what we consider important policy issues facing the nation, the media-coverage race is nearly a dead-heat.

Depending on which issues you include or exclude, the tally slips one way or the other, but remains close. For example we see a statistical tie when looking at the sum of coverage of the economy, the environment, health care, taxes, gun control, energy, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and terrorism. In the seven days ending July 7 we tallied 64,392 mentions of Obama in close proximity to one of these issues and 64,081 for McCain. For each issue the two are consistently very close.

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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