14 October 2008

Obama Wins Back Six Issues in Latest Rolling 30 Days, Edging McCain

By Dow Jones Insight Staff

In our previous analysis covering the period September 8 through October 8, half of the 26 major issues tracked by Dow Jones Insight had become too close to call, and of the other half, McCain had outpaced Obama by 9 to 4 in terms of share of coverage on each issue. Still, we saw this as indicating that the coverage was moving to parity, with most topics being about half and half. This week brought a different kind of parity, however, with the two candidates more or less splitting ownership of the issues down the middle, leaving fewer issues with no clear coverage leader. On the whole, though, the results show the coverage pendulum swinging back toward Obama, where it had been for much of the campaign season prior to the Palin and convention bump in September.

For the 30-day period from September 12 through October 12, Obama received higher coverage on 10 issues to McCain’s 9. The number of issues that were “ties” fell to seven from 13. Obama was responsible for most of the shift, gaining the coverage lead in six categories (bailout, faith, abortion, immigration and same-sex marriage, all formerly too close to call, plus Nafta, which McCain had won last time around). McCain stayed at nine, losing Nafta but adding Iran, which was formerly a tie.

Only a few of the issues themselves saw significant increases in overall coverage, relative to the other issues (defined as moving up or down the list by more than one spot). Those included taxes, which advanced two spots, and Iran, which climbed three. Education and abortion each fell two places.

Coverage volume related to the issues has leveled off a bit since our last snapshot, after rising strongly in recent weeks. The candidates’ names occurred in conjunction with one or more of the 26 tracked issues 1,395,917 times in the past 30 days in the nearly 20,000 mainstream media and 2 million social media sources analyzed, up slightly from 1,394,277 in the previous 30-day period. Of those issues-related mentions, 47% were related to the economic crisis (up 3 percentage points from last time) and 22% to the candidates themselves (down 1 percentage point), while non-economic domestic issues fell one point to 17% and issues related to the wars and the Middle East stayed the same, at 14% (figures in the previous period don’t total 100% due to rounding).

Methodology: This analysis looks at 26 selected issues that occurred within 50 words of at least one of the candidates’ names during the period of September 12 to October 12, 2008. To demonstrate change in “ownership” of issues, these data were compared with the period of September 8 to October 8. We opted to take a 30-day snapshot approximately every two weeks to flatten out any spikes in data that could be attributed to a single-day anomaly in the data. The data come from approximately 20,000 English-language mainstream media print and Web sources, more than 60,000 English-language message boards and 2 million blogs.

No comments: