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

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was the only candidate who was mentioned in a larger share of both cable news clips and online news stories last week than the week before, according to data from the TV News Archive1 and Media Cloud.2 That’s in part because of his latest dustup with former Vice President Joe Biden. Last week, Booker called Biden “the proud architect of a failed system,” referring to Biden’s role in passing the 1994 crime bill, which Booker said harmed “black, brown and low-income communities.” And much of the media’s increased focus on Booker was in the context of Biden. More than half of the cable news clips that mentioned Cory Booker last week also mentioned “Biden.” That’s up from the two preceding weeks, when 20 to 40 percent of clips mentioning Booker also mentioned “Biden.”3

Cory Booker got more media attention 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 7/14/19 7/21/19 diff 7/14/19 7/21/19 diff
Elizabeth Warren 18.3% 14.3% -4.0 38.9% 33.9% -5.0
Joe Biden 39.6 46.4 +6.9 37.2 32.5 -4.7
Bernie Sanders 25.3 14.1 -11.2 39.7 31.8 -7.9
Kamala Harris 20.3 25.0 +4.7 32.4 30.0 -2.4
Cory Booker 5.7 15.2 +9.5 16.1 20.5 +4.4
Pete Buttigieg 5.2 3.6 -1.6 19.8 15.3 -4.4
Kirsten Gillibrand 1.7 1.4 -0.3 13.2 11.5 -1.7
Bill de Blasio 3.3 2.5 -0.8 15.7 9.4 -6.3
Amy Klobuchar 2.4 1.0 -1.4 9.6 8.5 -1.1
Tulsi Gabbard 1.2 0.8 -0.4 6.2 7.6 +1.4
Julián Castro 2.8 1.4 -1.4 10.5 7.1 -3.4
Beto O’Rourke 4.1 1.9 -2.2 6.9 4.7 -2.2
Marianne Williamson 0.9 0.4 -0.4 6.1 3.8 -2.3
Andrew Yang 1.1 0.6 -0.5 6.0 3.5 -2.5
Jay Inslee 0.9 0.0 -0.9 7.2 3.3 -3.9
John Hickenlooper 1.0 0.0 -0.9 6.6 3.3 -3.3
Michael Bennet 0.7 0.3 -0.4 5.5 2.8 -2.6
John Delaney 1.2 0.1 -1.1 5.4 2.5 -2.9
Tim Ryan 1.1 0.3 -0.8 5.4 2.4 -3.1
Steve Bullock 2.4 0.5 -1.9 6.1 2.2 -3.9
Seth Moulton 0.2 0.0 -0.2 3.8 1.7 -2.0
Mike Gravel 0.0 0.0 +0.0 1.9 0.3 -1.5
Joe Sestak 0.0 0.0 +0.0 2.0 0.2 -1.7

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

This isn’t the first time attacking Biden has helped Booker get more media attention. In the week before the first Democratic debate in June, Booker called on Biden to apologize for his remarks about working with segregationist senators. The strategy of attacking Biden’s past stances on racial relations also got Sen. Kamala Harris more media coverage.

Going into the second round of debates, Biden remains by far the most mentioned candidate on the cable news networks we monitor — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — but he has lost his dominance in online news, where he is mentioned about as often as several other candidates. We’ll be waiting to see if Booker and Harris continue to call attention to Biden’s views on race in the second debate, and whether or not those attacks can keep broadening the media’s focus and boost coverage for candidates other than Biden. Stay tuned!

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 Julián 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.

  3. Specifically, 37 percent of clips mentioned both candidates the week before last, and 22 percent mentioned both in the week before that.

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

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