16 September 2008

Palin May Have Stolen the Show in Minnesota, but Obama Still Pulled in Higher Convention Coverage

Dow Jones Insight Staff

While the selection of Palin has shifted the spotlight toward the Republicans over the past few weeks, when we analyze mainstream media coverage of both candidates around the time of their respective conventions, Obama still comes out ahead.

We looked at the four scheduled days of each convention plus the preview day before and the wrap-up day afterward – or August 24-29 for the Democrats and August 31-September 5 for the Republicans. The Democratic convention time period saw 91,395 total mentions of both candidates, 14% more coverage than the 80,250 total mentions in the days surrounding the hurricane-shortened Republican convention.

While the higher overall total is understandable given that the Democratic convention was a four-day event compared with three days for the GOP, Obama had a more dominant share of the conversation during his convention than McCain had during his. Specifically, Obama had 54,624 mentions, or a 60% share, around the time of the Democratic convention, compared to McCain’s 36,771 mentions, or 40%, at that time. In the days surrounding the Republican convention, McCain received 45,448 mentions, for a 57% share, compared to Obama’s 34,802 mentions, or 43%.

While each won their respective convention periods, Obama won his by a wider margin. Also, when combining mentions from both time periods, Obama received 52% of the total, compared to McCain’s 48%.

That Obama retained a lead is especially notable given that the day after the Democratic convention was the day McCain announced Palin as his running mate, which boosted McCain-related coverage during the Democratic convention time period. The timing of the Palin announcement was a clear effort to steal Obama’s thunder, but it couldn’t quite offset the coverage Obama received during the Democratic convention itself.

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.

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