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

For the past six weeks the top five most-mentioned candidates in our weekly summaries of cable news coverage have been Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg. Last week, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker broke into that top group — his name appeared in 12 percent of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News clips that mentioned a Democratic contender. And Booker’s ascension wasn’t limited to cable news.

Since the beginning of April, FiveThirtyEight has been using the TV News Archive to track how often candidates’ names come up on the three cable news networks we’ve been tracking.1 This week, we have also started monitoring the number of articles mentioning each candidate in online news, which we do using Media Cloud, a database from MIT and Harvard University.2 Last week, about a quarter of the online news stories3 that mentioned any of the candidates included at least one mention of Booker, up from 16 percent the previous week.

Cory Booker got a lot 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 June 9 June 16 diff. June 9 June 16 diff.
Joe Biden 55.3% 55.6% +0.2 52.3% 56.8% +4.5
Bernie Sanders 18.7 14.6 -4.1 38.3 33.7 -4.5
Elizabeth Warren 16.4 15.5 -0.8 35.2 32.1 -3.1
Cory Booker 3.0 12.6 +9.5 16.1 24.9 +8.8
Pete Buttigieg 7.7 5.5 -2.2 22.8 22.5 -0.3
Kamala Harris 7.0 7.0 +0.0 22.9 21.7 -1.2
Bill de Blasio 1.9 1.2 -0.8 10.5 8.8 -1.7
Amy Klobuchar 1.8 0.9 -0.8 11.6 8.5 -3.1
Julian Castro 1.6 0.6 -0.9 8.7 6.9 -1.8
Kirsten Gillibrand 1.7 0.9 -0.8 13.5 6.9 -6.6
Eric Swalwell 1.1 0.8 -0.3 7.3 4.5 -2.8
Andrew Yang 0.9 1.0 +0.2 6.5 4.1 -2.5
Jay Inslee 0.6 0.7 +0.1 6.7 4.1 -2.6
John Hickenlooper 1.0 0.5 -0.5 7.1 4.1 -3.0
Marianne Williamson 0.4 0.2 -0.2 4.9 3.9 -1.0
Steve Bullock 1.4 0.4 -1.0 6.6 3.7 -2.9
Beto O’Rourke 4.4 2.3 -2.1 7.7 3.5 -4.2
Tim Ryan 0.9 1.2 +0.3 5.0 3.4 -1.6
John Delaney 0.6 0.3 -0.3 6.4 3.4 -3.0
Michael Bennet 0.5 0.4 -0.1 5.5 3.3 -2.2
Tulsi Gabbard 0.2 0.3 +0.1 5.6 3.2 -2.4
Seth Moulton 0.8 0.2 -0.6 5.2 3.1 -2.0
Mike Gravel 0.2 0.0 -0.2 2.3 1.2 -1.1

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

But Booker’s coverage wasn’t exclusively about him: 44 percent of the 562 cable news clips mentioning Booker also mentioned Biden. Online, 68 percent of stories mentioning Booker also mentioned Biden. On Wednesday, Booker called on Biden to apologize for Biden’s remarks about segregationist senators’ use of the word “boy.” Biden then called on Booker to apologize, and Booker responded that he would not, maintaining that Biden should. Turns out that going toe-to-toe with the front-runner can get you media attention.

This week, we will have our eye on whether or not the first Democratic debates lead to a big shift in the amount of cable and online news coverage each candidate receives. Stay tuned!

From ABC News:

Biden showed ‘a lack of understanding’: Sen. Cory Booker

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 news.


  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.

  3. We queried two of Media Cloud’s lists of online news: “top online news” and “digital native” publications.

Dhrumil Mehta was a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight.