16 September 2008

If Money Talks, Which Candidate Speaks Loudest?

Dow Jones Insight Staff

With Barack Obama’s announcement this week that he had raised a record $66 million in August and lined up more than 500,000 first-time donors, we looked at how the four candidates compared recently on the issue of fundraising.

Obama, by far the leader in donations from the public, also leads the way in terms of media coverage on the topic, though not by much. There were 1,740 mentions of his name in close proximity to fundraising-related terms in the previous seven days, or 36% of the total 4,826 fundraising mentions of the four candidates over that period. Because Obama declined to take public funds to finance his campaign on the assumption that he could raise far more on his own and spend it as he wished, fundraising events will continue to be a central activity for the Democratic nominee going forward. And with Obama as the far more galvanizing half of the ticket, his running mate, Joe Biden, has not played a very public fundraising role, netting just 279 mentions related to the issue, or 6% of the total.

On the Republican side, McCain, who has accepted public financing and is therefore limited in how much he can raise and how he can spend it, is expected to spend far less time drumming up donations, leaving much of that role to his running mate. Nonetheless, in the previous week McCain drew 1,665 mentions in reference to fundraising, or 35% of all fundraising mentions, as the media compared the state of McCain’s coffers with Obama’s. Palin, meanwhile, received 1,142 mentions on the issue, or 24%, as she took on a major fundraising role for the McCain campaign, with the goal of appealing to the conservative base and enabling McCain to focus on the issues.

Methodology: All charts and figures above reflect mentions of the candidates in both mainstream and social media sources. 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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