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

Sen. Kamala Harris got a lot of media attention in the days immediately after the first Democratic debate and in the week that followed, putting her just behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who has dominated media coverage of the Democratic race for months. But the latest numbers show Harris falling behind Biden again. Last week, she was mentioned in significantly fewer cable news clips1 and online news stories2 than the week before, according to data from the TV News Archive, which chops up cable news from the three stations we monitor — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — into 15-second clips, and Media Cloud, a database of online news stories.

Harris’s share of news coverage is dropping

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 30 July 7 diff. June 30 July 7 diff.
Joe Biden 43.4% 50.6% +7.2 47.2% 41.1% -6.1
Elizabeth Warren 11.8 13.6 +1.8 30.8 32.7 +1.9
Bernie Sanders 13.5 12.1 -1.4 35.9 31.9 -4.0
Kamala Harris 37.1 22.8 -14.3 45.1 31.1 -14.0
Pete Buttigieg 9.0 6.3 -2.7 27.6 16.2 -11.4
Cory Booker 4.3 3.5 -0.8 17.4 11.8 -5.6
Bill de Blasio 0.4 2.2 +1.8 6.7 11.6 +5.0
Eric Swalwell 0.4 3.6 +3.3 4.0 8.1 +4.1
Julian Castro 2.9 1.2 -1.7 15.4 8.0 -7.4
Kirsten Gillibrand 0.3 1.0 +0.8 7.1 8.0 +0.9
Amy Klobuchar 1.2 1.9 +0.7 8.9 7.5 -1.5
Jay Inslee 0.2 0.9 +0.7 3.6 5.4 +1.7
Beto O’Rourke 2.6 2.1 -0.4 6.2 4.2 -2.0
Tulsi Gabbard 0.3 0.1 -0.2 3.9 4.1 +0.2
Marianne Williamson 0.7 0.1 -0.5 5.6 3.9 -1.8
Andrew Yang 0.5 0.6 +0.2 3.9 3.7 -0.2
John Hickenlooper 0.7 0.2 -0.5 3.6 3.5 -0.1
Michael Bennet 0.3 0.7 +0.4 4.2 3.3 -1.0
Steve Bullock 0.1 0.2 +0.1 2.4 2.9 +0.5
John Delaney 0.3 0.2 -0.1 3.0 2.7 -0.3
Seth Moulton 0.1 0.1 +0.0 2.2 2.6 +0.4
Tim Ryan 0.8 0.3 -0.5 2.9 2.2 -0.7
Mike Gravel 0.0 0.0 +0.0 0.9 1.4 +0.5
Joe Sestak 0.0 0.0 +0.0 0.7 1.1 +0.4

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 the share of cable news clips mentioning Harris declined by about 14 percentage points, the share that mentioned Biden increased by almost 7 percentage points. Last week, Biden was mentioned in about half of all cable news clips that mentioned at least one 2020 Democratic candidate, but Harris was mentioned in only about 23 percent. And much of Harris’s cable news coverage also mentioned Biden — his last name came up in 42 percent of her cable news clips, but only 16 percent of the clips mentioning Biden also mentioned “Harris.”

And Harris’ double-digit decline in the share of online stories mentioning her made room for other candidates to pull ahead of her, as she dropped from the second-most-mentioned candidate in online news stories to the fourth-most-mentioned.

Harris is still getting more media attention on both cable and online news than she was in the weeks prior to the first Democratic debate, but it seems that candidates’ performances in the first Democatic debate were not enough to unseat Joe Biden as the most mentioned candidate in cable and online news.

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 and online.

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.)

  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 is a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight focusing on politics.

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