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Elizabeth Warren Is Attracting More Supporters And More Media Attention

Of all the 2020 Democratic candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has stood out for making incremental but relatively steady gains. And along with a rise in her polling numbers, Warren has been getting more media attention.

Data from the TV News Archive shows that last week Warren was mentioned more often on cable news than she had been since at least April, when FiveThirtyEight began tracking the weekly number of cable news clips mentioning 2020 Demcoratic presidential hopefuls. (TV News Archive chops up cable news on the three networks we follow — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — into 15-second clips.)1 And according to data from Media Cloud,2 a database of online news stories, Warren was the most-mentioned candidate in online news stories last week.

Warren received the most online mentions last week

Share of 15-second cable news clips mentioning each candidate vs. share of online stories mentioning each candidate in a Media Cloud search

Cable TV clips the week of … online stories the week of …
Candidate 8/4/19 8/11/19 diff 8/4/19 8/11/19 diff
Elizabeth Warren 15.2% 20.1% +4.9 31.6% 34.6% +3.0
Bernie Sanders 9.8 15.5 +5.7 31.3 33.7 +2.3
Joe Biden 33.3 32.0 -1.4 37.0 31.7 -5.3
Kamala Harris 8.8 10.9 +2.1 19.1 23.8 +4.7
Cory Booker 9.3 5.0 -4.3 19.7 15.7 -4.0
Pete Buttigieg 3.1 3.8 +0.8 16.0 15.0 -1.0
Kirsten Gillibrand 1.2 1.0 -0.2 6.5 10.2 +3.7
Beto O’Rourke 17.8 8.4 -9.5 16.0 9.3 -6.7
John Hickenlooper 0.8 4.2 +3.5 3.5 9.3 +5.8
Andrew Yang 1.5 3.3 +1.8 5.9 8.7 +2.8
Julian Castro 2.8 2.7 -0.1 11.3 8.5 -2.8
Bill de Blasio 2.2 1.2 -1.0 7.0 7.8 +0.8
Amy Klobuchar 1.6 1.5 -0.1 7.8 7.0 -0.8
Tulsi Gabbard 0.9 0.4 -0.5 4.5 5.3 +0.9
Steve Bullock 1.4 1.7 +0.3 4.6 5.1 +0.5
Tom Steyer 3.4 4.3 +0.9 3.4 4.9 +1.5
Michael Bennet 0.1 1.1 +1.0 2.8 4.3 +1.5
Marianne Williamson 0.8 0.5 -0.4 4.8 4.1 -0.7
Tim Ryan 4.0 1.6 -2.5 7.6 3.9 -3.7
John Delaney 0.5 0.7 +0.1 3.3 3.6 +0.3
Jay Inslee 0.5 0.6 +0.1 3.7 3.6 -0.1
Seth Moulton 0.0 0.3 +0.3 1.6 2.0 +0.4
Joe Sestak 0.0 0.0 +0.0 0.8 1.6 +0.7
Mike Gravel 0.0 1.1

Includes all candidates that qualify as “major” in FiveThirtyEight’s rubric. Each network’s daily news coverage is chopped up into 15-second clips, and each clip that includes a candidate’s name is counted as one mention. For both cable and online news, our search queries look for an exact match for each candidate’s name, except for Julian Castro, for whom our search query is “Julian Castro” OR “Julián Castro.” Media Cloud searches use two of the database’s publication lists: “top online news” and “digital native” publications.

Sources: Internet Archive’s Television News Archive via the GDELT Project, Media Cloud

While Warren was mentioned in the greatest number of online news stories last week, she has only a narrow lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. All three were mentioned in about a third of the online news stories that mentioned any 2020 Democratic candidate, and have since late last month been mentioned in approximately the same percentage of stories. And despite her gains, Warren continues to trail Biden in cable news mentions.

Still, last week, Warren’s share of mentions rose and Biden’s fell across both mediums. That’s part of a larger trend for Biden. When he first declared his candidacy in April, Biden was consistently mentioned in more than 40 percent of all cable news clips that mentioned any Democratic candidate, but last week he was mentioned in about 32 percent — the smallest share since entering the race. And for the second time since Biden’s campaign launched, Biden dropped to the third most-mentioned candidate online while Warren led in online mentions.

Check out the data behind this series and check back each week for an update on which candidates are getting the most coverage on cable news.


  1. The TV News Archive measures coverage by splitting CNN, Fox News and MSNBC’s daily news footage into 15-second clips and finding the clips that contain a mention of our search query. Our search queries are the full names of each candidate. The GDELT Television API, which processes the data from the TV News Archive, measures a week of coverage from Sunday through Saturday. The cutoff for measuring coverage for any given day is midnight Eastern Standard Time. (Clock changes for Daylight Saving Time are ignored.)

  2. Our search queries are the full names of each candidate, except for Julian Castro. Since his name is sometimes written with an accent mark and sometimes without, our search query for him looks for “Julian Castro” OR “Julián Castro.” We aggregate the data from Sunday through Saturday of each week to match the queries of TV news. Media Cloud dates articles based on when the article page says the story was published, which means that it is insensitive to time zones and its cutoff times each week may be slightly different than the times used for the cable news data.

Dhrumil Mehta was a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight.