From Dow Jones

NEW YORK — Results from the Dow Jones Insight-2008 Presidential Election Media Pulse show that Sarah Palin continues to hold the lead in overall media coverage of the four nominees for president and vice president — clearly giving a boost to Republican running mate John McCain, whose recent coverage has matched or exceeded that of rival Barack Obama after trailing the Democratic candidate for most of the year.

While Palin had virtually zero coverage in the days prior to her August 29th unveiling as the Republican vice presidential nominee, in the period from August 30 through September 13 her coverage surpassed that of presidential nominee Obama, and left vice presidential rival Joe Biden far behind, according to analysis of mainstream and social media sources tracked by Dow Jones Insight.

When considering coverage of the two presidential candidates only, McCain had 179,004 total mentions in all tracked media sources during the same time period, or a 55 percent share, to Obama’s 148,000 mentions, or 45 percent share. McCain also led in terms of headline mentions in the mainstream press, with 21,995 mentions, or 54 percent, to Obama’s 18,769, or 46 percent, while in social media sources (blogs and boards) Obama had 33,120 headline mentions to McCain’s 32,900, for a 50-50 split.

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

The timing of the Palin announcement could be viewed as a clear effort to steal Obama’s thunder, but it couldn’t quite offset his coverage during the Democratic convention itself. While the spotlight has shifted toward the Republicans over the past few weeks, when comparing mainstream and social media coverage of both candidates around the time of their respective conventions, Obama still came out ahead.

Dow Jones Insight tracked coverage of the candidates on 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 — and found that 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 Republican convention. Since the Republican convention was shortened by a day due to Hurricane Gustav, the higher overall total for the Democratic convention is understandable. However when comparing each candidate’s percentage of total mentions, Obama had a more dominant share of the conversation during his convention than McCain had during his.

  • Obama had 54,624 mentions, or a 60 percent share, during the Democratic convention time period tracked, compared to McCain’s 36,771 mentions, or 40 percent, in the same timeframe.
  • In the days tracked surrounding the Republican convention, McCain received 45,448 mentions, for a 57 percent share, compared to Obama’s 34,802 mentions, or 43 percent
  • When combining mentions from both time periods, Obama received 52 percent of the total to McCain’s 48 percent

If Money Talks, Which Candidate Speaks Loudest?

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, he is by far the leader in donations from the public, and also leads the way in terms of media coverage on the topic. According to analysis of mainstream and social media sources tracked by Dow Jones Insight, there were 1,740 mentions of Obama’s name in close proximity to fundraising-related terms in the previous seven days, or 36 percent of the total 4,826 fundraising mentions of the four candidates over that period. His running mate, Joe Biden, who has not played a very public fundraising role, netted just 279 mentions, or 6 percent.

While Obama declined to take public funds to finance his campaign, 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. In the previous week McCain drew 1,665 mentions in reference to fundraising, or 35 percent of all fundraising mentions of the four candidates. Meanwhile, Palin received 1,142 mentions on the issue, or 24 percent, as she took on a major fundraising role for the McCain campaign.

Higher Overall Coverage for McCain Translates to Ownership of Additional Issues

In the period August 15 – September 15, media coverage of the campaign issues being tracked by Dow Jones Insight surged again, with a trend in issues ownership toward McCain reflecting the overall increase in McCain- related coverage. McCain had the lead in 17 of the 25 issues being tracked, up from six in a previous analysis. Among the issues he led were the economy, taxes, terrorism, health care and abortion (each with a split of 54 percent for McCain to 46 percent for Obama), as well as energy (59 percent to 41 percent) and the environment (56 percent to 44 percent). Obama owned just five issues, down from seven in a previous analysis, including faith, race, Israel, gun control and NAFTA. Total issues- based coverage was up 22 percent during this period, reaching 1,137,582 mentions of all 25 issues compared with 934,408 from the previous analysis.

The Dow Jones Insight-2008 Presidential Election Media Pulse ( provides a high-level view of a competitive media landscape and demonstrates how candidates and issues are covered in the media and how that coverage changes over time. Dow Jones Insight combines proven research methodologies, trusted content and advanced text-mining and visualization tools to deliver strategic qualitative and quantitative media measurement metrics. Organizations use the analysis to nurture their reputation, demonstrate the effectiveness of their communications strategies and achieve business objectives. The platform processes nearly a million articles, Web pages, blogs and message board posts per day.

About The Author

Blast is Boston's Online Magazine

Leave a Reply