The Democratic primary debate last week has done little to change which candidates the media is focusing on. According to data from the TV News Archive, which chops up cable news into 15-second clips,1 former Vice President Joe Biden was once again the candidate mentioned in the most clips on the three networks we monitor — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Biden’s name came up in about twice as many clips as Sen. Kamala Harris’s last week. And according to data from Media Cloud, a database of online news,2 Biden was mentioned in about 44 percent of online news stories, not much more than Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who were mentioned in 43 percent and 38 percent of stories, respectively. Unlike the first debate, which was a huge breakout moment for Harris in terms of media mentions and cut into Biden’s dominance of both cable and online news, this debate has left things largely as they were in previous weeks.
|Cable TV clips the week of …||online stories the week of …|
|Bill de Blasio||2.4||1.6||-0.8||9.6||14.3||+4.7|
If we look only at cable and online news in the three days right after the last night of the second debate, Biden still remains the most-mentioned candidate both on cable news and online, appearing in 46 percent of all cable clips that mentioned any Democratic 2020 candidate and more than half of online news stories that mentioned a 2020 candidate. Harris came in second over those three days in both metrics, with 19 percent of cable mentions and 36 percent of online mentions. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was third in cable mentions with 11 percent, while Warren and Sanders were nearly tied for third place in online news coverage, with right around 30 percent of mentions.
And it’s not just the level of media attention that hasn’t changed a whole lot. A Morning Consult/Politico poll taken before and after the second debate seems to indicate that the faceoff didn’t do much to change voters’ top choice of candidate — Biden seems to lead there too, just like he does in media attention.