2008 Presidential Election Media Pulse: Democrats Dominated Primary Season Press Coverage

With the party nominations finally decided, results from the Dow Jones Insight—2008 Presidential Election Media Pulse show that if media coverage is an indicator of the final outcome of the Democratic presidential candidate race, then the nomination was Barack Obama's all along, as he outpaced Hillary Clinton in mentions in both the traditional press and the social media, with blogs and message boards leading the way.

With the party nominations finally decided, results from the Dow Jones Insight—2008 Presidential Election Media Pulse show that if media coverage is an indicator of the final outcome of the Democratic presidential candidate race, then the nomination was Barack Obama's all along, as he outpaced Hillary Clinton in mentions in both the traditional press and the social media, with blogs and message boards leading the way.

From Super Tuesday on February 5 through Friday, June 6, the last day on which Clinton was officially in the race, Obama received 57% of the Democrats' total social media coverage with 268,916 mentions on the blogs and boards, compared with Clinton's 43%, or 205,805. Dow Jones Insight analyzed two million of the most influential blogs and more than 6,000 message boards, with data compiled from a total of 418,234 unique documents.

During the primary period as a whole, traditional press coverage of the Democrats remained consistent with a slight nod to Obama. He received 52% of all mentions in mainstream press sources for the two Democrats with 756,281 total mentions, compared with 700,704 mentions, or 48% of the total, for Clinton.

The road to the White House paved with faith and fundraising

As the election officially became a two-man race after Hillary Clinton withdrew her candidacy, Barack Obama and John McCain continued turning their attention more pointedly toward one another – and the issues they believe will help them win in November. Based on data from the tracked social media in the past eight days, the Dow Jones Insight—2008 Presidential Election Media Pulse finds that candidate efforts have resonated clearly on certain issues.

-Obama dominated even more than usual on the issue of faith representing 40% of his total issues-related coverage with 2,423 mentions, compared to McCain's 953 mentions, or 23% of his issues coverage

-A number of events drove the faith discussion including Obama cutting ties with his Chicago church and his condemnation of a visiting priest's sermon mocking Clinton, as well as a speech to a pro-Israel group in which he outlined his proposed strategy for the Middle East

-On the issue of fundraising, Obama exceeded McCain in mentions by almost as much as he has in actual funds raised after he announced a ban on lobbyist and PAC donations to the Democratic National Committee

-Obama received 814 mentions on the topic of fundraising, or about 14% of his overall issues coverage, compared with 399 mentions, or just 10%, for McCain

McCain's economy – Let them have gas!

McCain held clear leads on the blogs and boards in terms of taxes and the economy, with both driven in part by his efforts to distance himself from the Bush economic policies at the same time that the Obama team was calling them one and the same. McCain's continued support for a gas-tax holiday for the summer also received coverage.

On the economy, McCain was mentioned 815 times on the blogs and boards during the tracked period, or 20% of his total coverage on all issues, compared to 558 mentions, or 9%, for Obama. On the tax issue, McCain saw 553 mentions, while Obama received 439 mentions.

The Dow Jones Insight—2008 Presidential Election Media Pulse tracks four key areas of media coverage related to the election, as reported across traditional and social media sources, including:
- Coverage of key issues by party
- Issue ownership by party
- Coverage of policies by media type
- Share of voice analysis – press coverage by each candidate

The Dow Jones Insight—2008 Presidential Election Media Pulse provides a view of a competitive media landscape, demonstrates how candidates and issues are covered in the media, and how that coverage changes over time. The platform processes nearly a million articles, Web pages, blogs, and message board posts per day.


* Methodology: “Close proximity” is defined as within about 50 words. Sources include more than 6,000 newspapers, wires, magazines, radio and TV transcripts.

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