14 October 2008

Coverage of the Economy Outpaces All Other Issues Since Super Tuesday

By Dow Jones Insight Staff

Conventional wisdom of late has held that John McCain was performing best when foreign policy issues such as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and terrorism were at the forefront of the presidential campaign, and that now that the economy and financial crisis are dominating the discussion, his weaknesses are causing him to fall behind in the polls.

While it is true that election coverage pertaining to the economy is currently at its peak and that McCain is now trailing Obama significantly in several national polls, analysis of coverage in 20,000 mainstream sources tracked by Dow Jones Insight reveals that the economy has, in fact, been the top election issue at almost every step of the way since Super Tuesday, falling behind other issues on only a handful of occasions. The related issue of taxes has also outpaced foreign policy issues much of the time. So attributing McCain’s recent slide to a shift in press coverage toward the economy may not be quite accurate, since the emphasis has been there all along.

For the eight months beginning on Super Tuesday, February 5, the economy and/or taxes drew the highest coverage in every week except in mid- to late-May, when McCain and Obama stepped up their dispute over whether or not to talk with Iran, and in late July when Obama made his trip to the Middle East.

In terms of volume, the economy drew 109,356 mentions in mainstream press sources for the entire eight-month period, compared with 100,943 combined mentions of the four tracked issues related to the Middle East that drew the most coverage – Iraq (23,677), Iran (20,044), Afghanistan (21,279) and terrorism (35,943). Meanwhile, taxes generated 67,387 total mentions in the tracked timeframe.

The issue of the economy alone exceeded the total combined mentions of the four Middle East issues in five of the eight months. When the economy is combined with taxes, the two issues exceeded the four foreign-policy topics in six of the eight months, with May and July again being the exceptions.

The week of July 14 saw the highest volume of Afghanistan coverage, with 5,518 mentions, while in the same week terrorism was mentioned 3,170 times. During the week of May 19, Iran was mentioned 1,461 times, compared to an unusually low 937 for the economy, and during the week of May 12, terrorism received 1,882 mentions while Iran was mentioned 1,466 times, both significantly outstripping the economy (1,049).

Methodology: Sources analyzed include more than 6,000 newspapers, wires, magazines, radio and TV transcripts. The nominees subject group includes McCain, Palin, Obama and Biden.

1 comment:

Andreea Vaas said...

Nice graph but try to put SAR And MACD on it to see some nice patterns