Clinton leaves 'experience' behind with Penn; Barack still 'bitter'

As the race to the White House heats up, Dow Jones Insight takes an in-depth look at the media coverage, heated topics, and winners and losers of public debate over national agendas, making it easy to determine trends and patterns in the media juggernaut.

As the race to the White House heats up, Dow Jones Insight takes an in-depth look at the media coverage, heated topics, and winners and losers of public debate over national agendas, making it easy to determine trends and patterns in the media juggernaut.

The Dow Jones Insight—2008 Presidential Election Media Pulse provides a view of the competitive media landscape and demonstrates how candidates and issues are covered in the media and how that coverage changes over time. It 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, and share of voice analysis by each candidate.

Results from the Dow Jones Insight—2008 Presidential Election Media Pulse during April 1-16 show that like the race for votes, Barack Obama had pulled ahead and Clinton received more mentions in the Pennsylvania press (3,033) than Obama (2,920), giving her 51% of all Democratic mentions to Obama's 49%.

Did blogs lead the way on Wright controversy?

While taking a look at the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy and its impact in helping drive Barack Obama's overall coverage higher, Dow Jones Insight determined Obama's coverage bump was quite pronounced during the week of March 17 in both blogs and newspapers. The increase in coverage on blogs came days earlier than the increase in newspapers (with peaks on the 18 and 19 for blogs, compared with the 19 through 21 for newspapers), it was far steeper, and it dropped off far more quickly, perhaps confirming what some have said – that the mainstream media was slow to pick up this story.

Clinton on to change after Penn gets left behind

On April 6, the Clinton campaign announced the demotion of its chief strategist, Mark Penn. Prior to his departure, Penn was the key proponent of the campaign's strategy to emphasize Clinton's experience, amid criticism from those who believed that such a focus was sharply at odds with an electorate clamoring for change.

After analyzing Clinton's coverage in the mainstream media on the issues of “experience” and “change” over the past month, Dow Jones Insight reports evidence of a shift in messaging from “during Penn” to “after Penn.” With Penn at the helm from mid-March to early April, “experience” and “change” each had a 36% share of voice of the four tracked issues (change, experience, hope, progress). After his demotion, “change” increased to a 41% share, while “experience” dropped sharply to just 20%.

Obama on ‘bitter' defense


The candidates espouse hope, but in the media, the campaign's negative aspects have tended to prevail. With the recent dust-up over Obama's comments about the “bitter” working class, the term “bitter” has surged past “change,” generating 3,058 mentions in the global mainstream and social media since April 1, versus 2,841 for “change,” and become the campaign buzzword of the month. Clinton and McCain have called Obama's remarks “elitist” (1,920 mentions), while Clinton has also labeled them “divisive” (573). “Hope” continues to hang in there, with 1,563 mentions.

McCain's “Service to America” tour is no service to media

In spite of the series of themed appearances throughout April, McCain's campaign team has been unable to close the gap significantly between McCain's coverage and that of the battling Democrats. McCain remains a distant third when analyzing mainstream and social media on a global basis.

For all of March, mentions of McCain had represented 23% of all mentions of the three candidates, compared with Obama's 41% and Clinton's 37%. For the first two weeks of April, McCain's share of mentions inched up just a percentage point, to 24%, while Obama and Clinton had 38% apiece.

Analysis conducted by Dow Jones Insight

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

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