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

Former Vice President Joe Biden returned to the top of the media heap last week.

After two weeks spent trailing behind Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the share of online news stories that mention him, Biden was once again the most mentioned candidate in online news, according to data from Media Cloud,1 a database of online news stories.

And as he has for weeks, he was mentioned in more cable news clips than any other Demcoratic candidate for president. Biden was mentioned in about half of all the clips that mentioned any 2020 Democratic contender last week, according to data from the TV News Archive,2 which chops up cable news across the three networks we monitor — CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC — into 15-second clips. That’s the highest share of cable and online news coverage that Biden has received since the second Democratic debate, and almost the highest since the first debate.

Biden got the most media mentions 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 8/18/19 8/25/19 diff 8/18/19 8/25/19 diff
Joe Biden 41.6% 49.7% +8.1 38.0% 45.8% +7.9
Bernie Sanders 16.9 18.5 +1.6 45.7 42.1 -3.6
Elizabeth Warren 22.0 24.3 +2.3 41.1 41.1 +0.0
Kamala Harris 8.3 5.0 -3.3 20.1 23.5 +3.4
Pete Buttigieg 3.3 2.6 -0.7 18.2 17.7 -0.4
Cory Booker 2.9 1.9 -1.0 14.0 14.8 +0.8
Andrew Yang 1.4 1.8 +0.4 6.5 12.2 +5.6
Julian Castro 2.0 1.3 -0.7 9.0 10.9 +1.9
Kirsten Gillibrand 1.1 3.7 +2.6 8.2 10.5 +2.3
Amy Klobuchar 0.5 1.7 +1.2 8.9 8.4 -0.5
Tom Steyer 4.4 5.2 +0.8 4.7 8.0 +3.3
Beto O’Rourke 3.5 2.7 -0.8 4.8 7.8 +2.9
Tulsi Gabbard 0.7 2.2 +1.5 5.3 7.8 +2.5
Bill de Blasio 2.4 2.2 -0.2 7.7 7.3 -0.4
Marianne Williamson 0.8 0.8 +0.0 5.1 5.8 +0.6
Steve Bullock 1.1 1.8 +0.7 3.6 5.6 +1.9
Michael Bennet 0.3 0.5 +0.2 3.9 5.3 +1.4
Tim Ryan 0.4 0.8 +0.4 3.1 4.2 +1.1
John Delaney 1.1 0.6 -0.5 4.1 3.1 -1.0
Joe Sestak 0.0 0.0 +0.0 1.0 1.4 +0.4
Jay Inslee 4.3 12.3
Seth Moulton 2.2 6.1

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

While Biden’s coverage increased on both mediums, both Warren and Sanders were mentioned a little more in cable news clips but not in online news stories. The biggest gain of the week — outside of Biden — came from Andrew Yang, whose share of online news stories increased the most after that of the former vice president. Yang’s share of online news mentions almost doubled between last week and the previous week, but he didn’t see much of an increase in the share of cable news clips that mentioned him. Last Tuesday, the hashtag #YangMediaBlackout trended on Twitter after CNN didn’t include him in a graphic of a Quinnipiac poll, even though he polled higher than another candidate who was included.

Despite the increase in Yang’s online coverage, he still doesn’t get anywhere near as much media attention as the highest-polling candidates in either medium. As the field continues to winnow, the media seems to be focusing more of its attention on Biden, Warren and Sanders.

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. Our search queries are the full names of each candidate, except for Julian Castro. Since his name is sometimes written 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.

  2. 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 is a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight focusing on politics.

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