19 August 2008

Olympics, Vacations Help McCain Narrow Overall Coverage Gap, but Only a Little…

Dow Jones Insight Staff

The McCain team took only modest advantage of Obama’s weeklong Hawaiian vacation to get its candidate in the news, opting instead to focus on fundraising, controlling press access to keep McCain on-message and getting a bit of a rest for him too. Nonetheless, McCain’s overall coverage numbers in mainstream and social media in the period of July 17 to August 17 (irrespective of issue, as opposed to the issues-oriented coverage discussed above) did improve relative to Obama’s, especially after Obama’s tour of the Middle East and Europe came to an end.

Obama had opened up an enormous coverage advantage as he toured the Middle East and Europe between July 19 and July 26, giving several high-profile speeches. But starting around July 30, McCain began to close the gap somewhat, especially around August 8th, when Obama set off for a vacation in Hawaii and much of the world (and the media) turned its attention toward the Olympics. He never quite did eliminate the gap, though he came close in the past few days.

On a percentage share basis, McCain came closest to matching Obama on August 16, the day on which the two candidates spoke at a forum at a California megachurch. McCain received 49% of the 9,250 total mentions of the two candidates, or 4,559 mentions compared to Obama’s 4,691. The difference of 132 mentions was also the smallest difference in raw numbers in the period analyzed. McCain also performed well on August 6, when he received 47% of 19,974 total mentions, or 9,334 to Obama’s 10,640; on August 3 (a Sunday), when he received 46% of 13,873 total mentions, or 6,378 mentions to Obama’s 7,495; and on July 31, when he received 45% of 21,335 mentions, or 9,632 to Obama’s 11,703.

For the period as a whole, McCain drew a share of 42%, or 218,796 mentions, versus 296,179 mentions, or 58%, for Obama.

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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