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Which 2020 Candidate Was Mentioned Most On Cable News Last Week?

For the first time since April, Sen. Bernie Sanders was not one of the two most-talked-about Democratic presidential candidates on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC last week. Instead, Sen. Elizabeth Warren took the second spot according to data from the TV News Archive that FiveThirtyEight has been tracking using the GDELT Project’s Television API.1 In recent weeks, Warren has seen an uptick in her polling numbers as well, but former Vice President Joe Biden continues to dominate the field in both polling and cable news mentions.

Warren bumped Sanders out of second place last week

How often each Democratic candidate was mentioned each week in news programming on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, counted by the number of 15-second clips that include each person’s full name

Number of Clips
Candidate Week of May 19 Week of May 26
Joe Biden 1,160
1,610
Elizabeth Warren 258
437
Bernie Sanders 465
365
Kamala Harris 238
316
Pete Buttigieg 310
137
Cory Booker 45
125
Beto O’Rourke 187
112
Eric Swalwell 25
59
Amy Klobuchar 46
51
Kirsten Gillibrand 74
50
Bill de Blasio 83
40
John Hickenlooper 9
33
Seth Moulton 14
32
Michael Bennet 0 21
Julian Castro 24
15
John Delaney 13
13
Steve Bullock 42
12
Andrew Yang 13
10
Jay Inslee 17
10
Tim Ryan 19
8
Tulsi Gabbard 11
7
Marianne Williamson 0 4
3,053
3,467

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 first and last name (found by running a search seeking an exact match for the name) is counted as one mention.

Source: Internet Archive’s Television News Archive via the GDELT Project

A majority of Warren’s mentions — 59 percent — came from MSNBC, and Fox News mentioned her more than CNN. According to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of the data, many of these clips also mention fellow front-runners Sanders, Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, suggesting that she’s often being discussed in terms of her position in the horse race.

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

Footnotes

  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.)

Dhrumil Mehta is a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight focusing on politics.

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