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

Last week, for the fifth week in a row, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders were the two most-mentioned 2020 Democratic candidates on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News, according to data from the TV News Archive accessed via the GDELT’s Project Television API.1 While the candidates as a group were mentioned fewer times last week than the week before, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, was mentioned more often, likely because he held a town hall on Fox News last Sunday. He was the third-most-mentioned candidate last week, up from fifth the week before.

Buttigieg boosted his cable news coverage 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 12 Week of May 19
Joe Biden 1,715
Bernie Sanders 530
Pete Buttigieg 277
Elizabeth Warren 358
Kamala Harris 343
Beto O’Rourke 217
Bill de Blasio 263
Kirsten Gillibrand 82
Amy Klobuchar 43
Cory Booker 107
Steve Bullock 162
Eric Swalwell 14
Julian Castro 13
Tim Ryan 11
Jay Inslee 21
Seth Moulton 29
John Delaney 2
Andrew Yang 11
Tulsi Gabbard 12
John Hickenlooper 13
Marianne Williamson 7
Michael Bennet 11
Total 4,241

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

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke held a CNN town hall on Tuesday night, but it doesn’t seem to have gotten him mentioned more often on cable news, which had been already been paying less attention to him in recent weeks. Sixteen major candidates were mentioned less than 100 times last week on cable news.

From ABC News:

Buttigieg: Would put my mayoral, military experience up ‘against … any competitor’

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.


  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 was a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight.