Last week, CNN held seven hours of back-to-back town halls where 10 candidates discussed their approaches to addressing climate change. Those same 10 candidates will appear in the Democratic primary debate this Thursday.
Perhaps as a result of all that attention, many of those presidential hopefuls saw an increase in how much cable and online news coverage they got last week, measured as the share of all stories or clips mentioning at least one Democratic 2020 contender that included their name. Conversely, most of the candidates who weren’t involved (and will be left out of the debate this week), saw a decline, according to data from the TV News Archive1 and Media Cloud.2
Across the cable news networks we monitor — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — the phrase “climate change” was mentioned in more 15-second clips last week than any other week this year. Five candidates — Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Cabinet secretary Julián Castro, and Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar — unveiled sweeping new proposals to tackle climate change last week, and all five received a bump in their share of mentions in both mediums. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke also saw an increase in his share of mentions on cable news, but clips that mentioned him were more likely to mention guns than climate, suggesting that the media is paying more attention to his positions on gun control in the wake of a second deadly mass shooting in his home state.
|Cable TV clips the week of …||online stories the week of …|
|Bill de Blasio||2.2||3.7||+1.5||7.3||5.6||-1.7|
The three highest-polling candidates — former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — did appear in the CNN town halls about climate change, but were mentioned fewer times last week than the week before. Still, they remain well ahead of the rest of the pack in terms of both media mentions and support in the polls. And even in that top tier, Biden continues to lead Warren and Sanders in both online and cable news mentions for the second week in a row, leading us to ask the same question we did before the first and second debates: Can anyone end Biden’s media dominance?