Last week, former Vice President Joe Biden was not the Democratic candidate who was mentioned in the most online news stories, marking the first time he has failed to claim that title since at least early June, when FiveThirtyEight began tracking online news coverage. According to data from Media Cloud,1 Biden dropped from first to third place last week, trailing closely behind Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in terms of online stories that mentioned their names as a percentage of stories mentioning any Democratic 2020 candidate. But Biden was still the most-talked-about candidate on cable news, according to data from the TV News Archive, which chops cable news coverage from the three networks we monitor — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — into 15-second clips.2
|Cable TV clips the week of …||online stories the week of …|
|Candidate||July 7||July 14||diff||July 7||July 14||diff|
|Bill de Blasio||2.2||3.3||+1.1||11.6||15.7||+4.2|
This isn’t the first time Biden’s media dominance has been challenged. The week following the first Democratic debate, Sen. Kamala Harris came close to unseating Biden as the most-mentioned candidate in both cable and online news, though she ultimately came up short. Biden has held the top spot in cable news mentions since he launched his campaign in April, and in online news, he was less than 3 percentage points out of first place last week, so despite his drop in the rankings, he still got a similar share of coverage to Sanders and Warren.
It’s too soon to say whether Biden has been permanently unseated or if he’s just temporarily getting slightly less attention. We’ll be watching the numbers leading into and following the second Democratic debate to see if Biden will finally have to start sharing the media spotlight with the rest of the field or if he will once again be able to keep the bulk of the coverage focused on himself. Stay tuned!