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

After her breakout performance in the first Democratic primary debate, Sen. Kamala Harris got a big surge in both public support and media attention. But with the second debate now over, Harris has lost most of the support that she had gained in the polls and, according to last week’s data from the TV News Archive1 and Media Cloud,2 she has also started to slide out of the media spotlight. Harris was mentioned in about 9 percent of all cable news clips that mentioned any Democratic 2020 candidate last week across the three networks we monitor — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — and she was mentioned in about 19 percent of online news stories that mentioned any candidate. That’s about half as big a share as she had in the previous week and similar to the amount she was being mentioned in the week before the first debate.

Harris’s post-debate momentum is fading

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 7/28/19 8/4/19 diff 7/28/19 8/4/19 diff
Joe Biden 36.2% 33.3% -2.9 43.5% 37.1% -6.5
Elizabeth Warren 16.2 15.2 -1.1 38.3 31.5 -6.7
Bernie Sanders 17.3 9.8 -7.6 43.1 31.3 -11.8
Cory Booker 8.6 9.3 +0.7 20.9 19.6 -1.3
Kamala Harris 18.2 8.8 -9.5 34.5 19.0 -15.5
Beto O’Rourke 3.7 17.8 +14.2 5.8 16.1 +10.3
Pete Buttigieg 3.7 3.1 -0.6 19.9 16.1 -3.9
Julián Castro 2.7 2.8 +0.2 14.1 11.2 -3.0
Amy Klobuchar 2.0 1.6 -0.4 12.8 7.8 -5.1
Tim Ryan 1.9 4.0 +2.1 11.5 7.6 -3.9
Bill de Blasio 1.6 2.2 +0.7 14.3 6.9 -7.4
Kirsten Gillibrand 1.5 1.2 -0.3 12.6 6.5 -6.1
Andrew Yang 2.1 1.5 -0.6 9.6 5.9 -3.7
Marianne Williamson 3.0 0.8 -2.2 16.3 4.8 -11.5
Steve Bullock 2.0 1.4 -0.6 11.7 4.6 -7.1
Tulsi Gabbard 3.2 0.9 -2.3 12.7 4.4 -8.3
Jay Inslee 0.7 0.5 -0.2 9.5 3.7 -5.8
John Hickenlooper 0.7 0.8 +0.0 10.7 3.5 -7.2
Tom Steyer 1.0 3.4 +2.4 2.6 3.4 +0.8
John Delaney 2.7 0.5 -2.2 15.0 3.3 -11.7
Michael Bennet 1.0 0.1 -0.8 7.3 2.8 -4.5
Seth Moulton 0.0 0.0 +0.0 1.3 1.6 +0.3
Mike Gravel 0.0 0.0 +0.0 0.7 1.1 +0.3
Joe Sestak 0.0 0.0 +0.0 0.6 0.8 +0.2

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 Harris was not the only candidate getting less media attention last week. Several other candidates, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former Rep. John Delaney all slid backwards after post-debate bumps two weeks ago. While most candidates saw some reduction in their share of mentions, Sen. Cory Booker’s media coverage stayed about the same from the previous week. And former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke got a lot more media attention following the shooting in his home district where more than 20 people were killed. Speaking from El Paso last week, O’Rourke was vocally critical of President Trump, linking the shooting to Trump’s racist rhetoric. Ultimately though, former Vice President Joe Biden remained the most-mentioned candidate in both cable and online news, as well as the leader in the polls.

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 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.

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

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