Dow Jones Insight Staff
In our previous analysis, we found that Obama was in the lead in media coverage on 10 of the 25 key election issues being tracked in mainstream and social media by Dow Jones Insight, a rather impressive performance. But in the latest period, from July 17 to August 17, he demonstrated a clear lead on 15 of the 25 issues, wresting one away from McCain and breaking formerly statistical ties in four others.
The five new issues on which Obama is now clearly ahead of McCain include the economy, health care, abortion, the housing slump and Nafta. The housing slump issue was formerly led by McCain, while the other four issues had been too close to call, defined as those that differ by six or fewer percentage points. While Obama’s lead in media coverage in general (see the next post for more detail) would certainly explain his lead on many issues, it is still surprising that his advantage on issues is almost across-the-board.
But perhaps it isn’t as bad as it seems for McCain. While he holds clear leads on only three issues, and all three of those are among the six least-covered issues, he is tied with Obama (i.e., too close to call) on six of the 14 most-covered issues. Among them are key domestic issues like energy, taxes, fuel prices and the environment. Given that he has lagged Obama in total media mentions since we began tracking election-related media coverage, it is a pretty fair achievement that he’s maintaining parity on so many issues.
Of the remaining eight of the top 14 most covered issues, Obama’s tour of the Middle East and Europe in late July helped him take the lead on three – Afghanistan, Israel and Iran. But now that several weeks have passed since that trip, all three of those issues have fallen in the rankings compared to our previous report, and they could be up for grabs once that time period falls outside our analysis.
Methodology: This analysis looks at 25 selected issues that occurred within 50 words of at least one of the candidates’ names during the period of July 17 to August 17, 2008. To demonstrate change in “ownership” of issues, these data were compared with the period of July 6 to August 6. 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 19,000 English-language mainstream media print and Web sources, more than 50,000 English-language message boards and 2 million blogs.
19 August 2008
Dow Jones Insight Staff
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.
In mainstream press sources from July 17 through August 17, Obama’s name was mentioned in headlines 52,790 times, for a 65% share of all headline mentions, compared with just 28,588, or 35%, for McCain.
The picture in social media was not much better for McCain, as Obama was mentioned 59,346 times, for a 63% share, while McCain was mentioned 34,659 times, for a 37% share.
07 August 2008
By Glenn Fannick
Dow Jones Insight Staff
While there has been much talk by pundits about how McCain has been catching up with Obama in certain areas of media coverage as well as in the polls, the Dow Jones Insight analysis of the overall media landscape shows Obama still dominating mainstream and social media coverage of most issues.
Looking at the period of July 6 to August 6, 2008, our analysis shows that Obama continues to receive more coverage than McCain in 10 of the 25 issues being tracked*. McCain leads in four of the 25. The other 11 are too close to call. But perhaps more importantly, the issues Obama “owns” are also among the most discussed (6 of the top 10 are his; the other four are ties) while the four in which McCain leads are in the bottom seven slots.
Of the 11 issues that are too close to call – defined as those that differ by six or fewer percentage points – two significant issues (energy and fuel prices) were previously McCain’s while the other four (health care, abortion, Nafta and North Korea) were Obama’s during the period of June 20 to July 20. Energy is one of Obama’s two stated areas of focus for the week (the other being the economy) and while he has cut into McCain’s lead on energy, coverage of the economy is still pretty much even.
Obama’s lead holds when the data are sliced various ways, as well. In the period of July 30 to August 6, he has more coverage of domestic issues both on blogs and in the press; of international issues both on blogs and in the press; of wedge issues; more coverage in local press in the Red States, Blue States and the Swing States; and he still leads in the all-important “headline mentions” race.
However, the talk shows and pundits are talking about McCain catching up. So what are they seeing? It is possible to conclude that growth in Obama’s lead is slowing. When analyzing the number of daily mentions over the period of July 6 to August 6, we see that the trend lines for both candidates are rising more or less in tandem. But in the weeks before July 6, Obama’s upward trend was much steeper than McCain’s. In other words, Obama does seem to be gathering more mentions each day at a slower rate than before.