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Which Democratic Presidential Candidate Was Mentioned Most In The News Last Week?

Sen. Kamala Harris was mentioned in almost as many cable news clips1 and online news stories2 as former Vice President Joe Biden last week, according to data from the TV News Archive and Media Cloud. So far, Biden has dominated in terms of media mentions every week since he launched his campaign in April, but that could change if Harris can keep the attention of the national media, which turned to her after she and Biden sparred during the Democratic primary debate. We reported last week that Harris saw a big bump in media coverage in the two days following the debate, and it seems that she is sustaining high levels of media attention in the week after the debate as well. The week of June 16, which was the last full week before the debate, Harris was only mentioned in 7 percent of cable TV clips on the three networks we monitor — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — and her name came up in 22 percent of online news stories. But the week of June 30, following the debate, she was mentioned 37 percent of cable news clips and 45 percent of online news stories. And as you can see from the table below, she also got a higher percentage of all coverage that mentioned any Democratic candidate last week than she did during the week of the debate itself.

Harris and Biden shared the spotlight 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 June 23 June 30 diff. June 23 June 30 diff.
Joe Biden 37.9% 43.4% +5.5 44.8% 47.2% +2.4
Kamala Harris 16.8 37.1 +20.3 33.3 45.2 +11.8
Bernie Sanders 14.4 13.5 -1.0 41.2 35.8 -5.4
Elizabeth Warren 15.3 11.8 -3.5 42.1 30.8 -11.3
Pete Buttigieg 6.9 9.0 +2.1 24.7 27.7 +3.0
Cory Booker 6.1 4.3 -1.8 25.8 17.4 -8.4
Julian Castro 4.8 2.9 -2.0 20.4 15.3 -5.0
Amy Klobuchar 2.3 1.2 -1.1 15.6 8.7 -6.9
Kirsten Gillibrand 0.6 0.3 -0.3 12.7 7.1 -5.6
Bill de Blasio 2.3 0.4 -1.9 15.5 6.6 -8.9
Beto O’Rourke 6.1 2.6 -3.5 9.0 6.1 -2.9
Marianne Williamson 1.2 0.7 -0.6 12.3 5.6 -6.7
Michael Bennet 0.7 0.3 -0.4 8.6 4.1 -4.5
Eric Swalwell 1.7 0.4 -1.4 12.3 3.9 -8.4
Andrew Yang 0.9 0.5 -0.5 10.0 3.9 -6.1
Tulsi Gabbard 1.5 0.3 -1.2 11.8 3.8 -8.0
John Hickenlooper 0.7 0.7 +0.0 8.4 3.7 -4.8
Jay Inslee 1.5 0.2 -1.3 12.1 3.7 -8.4
Tim Ryan 1.8 0.8 -1.0 10.4 2.9 -7.5
John Delaney 1.4 0.3 -1.1 10.5 2.9 -7.7
Steve Bullock 0.4 0.1 -0.3 2.2 2.4 +0.3
Seth Moulton 0.1 0.1 -0.1 2.5 2.2 -0.3
Mike Gravel 0.0 0.0 +0.0 1.1 0.9 -0.1

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

Biden also got a larger share of clips and stories mentioning him last week than in the week of the debate, but his increase was not as large as Harris’s, his coverage is still down from the week of June 16. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, on the other hand, got a bigger share of cable news clips and online news stories last week than the week before. The word “million” appeared in about a quarter of cable news clips last week mentioning his name, mostly referring to the $24.8 million dollars he announced he had raised in the second quarter, more than Biden, Harris and several other top-tier candidates who have released fundraising numbers. (Full fundraising data for the quarter is not due to the Federal Election Commission until next week.)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the other hand, whose debate performance impressed voters in our poll with Morning Consult, got less coverage this week than the week of the debate. And Rep. Julián Castro, whose debate performance also scored well in the poll, was mentioned in almost 5 percent of cable news clips and 20 percent of online news stories the week of the debate but declined on both counts last week. Castro however, is still getting a much bigger share of mentions than he was the week prior to the debate, when he wasn’t even mentioned in 1 percent of cable news clips and appeared in less than 7 percent of online news stories. The same can’t be said of Warren, who got a smaller share of all candidates’ coverage on cable news and online last week than in the week before the debate.

As the dust from the debate settles, we’ll be watching to see if Harris is able to stay in the media spotlight with Biden. So check back with us next week to see if her campaign or any other is able to capture the attention of the national news media.

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.

From ABC News:

2020 Democratic candidates Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris in their own words


  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 spelled 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.