Pew media study: Obama’s coverage improved dramatically in the final week of the race

posted at 7:46 pm on November 19, 2012 by Allahpundit

Decisive? Per the national exit poll, O banked most of his margin before September, while he was busy methodically destroying Romney in attack ads, although his lead did noticeably widen in the final few days after a dead heat throughout October:

So maybe not decisive. But not helpful to Romney’s cause either:

Then, in the final week (October 29 to November 5), a noticeable change occurred: Obama’s coverage improved dramatically while Romney’s coverage stayed about the same but shrank in volume…

Not only did the tone change, but the amount of coverage changed as well. From October 1 to 28, Romney and Obama were both covered at roughly the same amount. Obama was a significant presence (meaning he was in 25% of the story or more) in 75% of the campaign-related coverage compared to 71% for Romney.

But in the final week, a bigger discrepancy was seen as Obama was a significant presence in 80% of the coverage, and Romney was a significant presence in 62%.

The data suggest two major factors in Obama’s increased and improved coverage in the final week of the campaign. One was the increase in amount of attention paid to the horse-race components of the race, which showed Obama with key advantages late in the race. During the final week, 46% of all press coverage of the campaign focused on horse-race and strategy stories, larger than the 39% that was devoted to such issues throughout the entire race.

The horse-race coverage was presumably driven by the final flurry of polls, most of which had O ahead. Nationally, NBC had Obama by one and ABC and Pew had him by three; meanwhile, the state polls had him leading in nearly every major battleground. There’s no way to know whether the rosy polling shook loose any undecideds for him or kept any Romney-leaning independents home, but seeing Pew’s numbers here made me think of Sean Trende’s piece in early October about how important it was to Obama’s campaign for them to be perceived as winning throughout the campaign. Trende’s theory was that if O lost the lead, the stench of a stagnant economy and leviathan deficits (political “gravity”) would suddenly overwhelm the conventional wisdom that he was going to win and that would cause him to fade. I do think that was a risk for him, but he averted it by having a solid second debate; if he had crapped the bed at that one too the way he did in Denver, Romney really might have vaulted ahead in the state polls and that would have been it. Or, given what we know now about Obama’s fantastic organizational effort, maybe I’m wrong and it wouldn’t have mattered much at all. Maybe a few more independents would have broken off for Romney but O still would have overwhelmed them by turning out endless waves of Democratic base voters. As it is, he ended up transforming the traditional likely voter model of election day into a registered voter model. The guy was making his own gravity.

Incidentally, here’s how things looked on Fox News and MSNBC the final week:

That’s right in line with how the networks skewed from late August to mid-October, replete with MSNBC out-tilting Fox, albeit even more dramatically in the last few days. Among the MSNBC shows surveyed by Pew, there was literally zero negative coverage of Obama and zero positive coverage of Romney, a result indistinguishable from propaganda. And this was while Benghazi news was still trickling out. To repeat a point I made in the post at the last link, MSNBC is less a liberal answer to Fox than it is a liberal answer to the left’s caricature of Fox.

Oh, the other major factor in Obama’s positive media coverage the last week, according to Pew? The hurricane, of course. But whether it was really “major” is unclear:

During the final week of the campaign, 4% of the newshole was devoted to stories focused on Hurricane Sandy, more than was devoted to other major issues such as Libya (3%), unemployment (1%), taxes (1%) and political endorsements (1%).

But of the 16 stories in the sample that focused exclusively on the hurricane and included Obama in a significant way, only 3 were positive and 5 were negative. (Romney was only a significant presence in two hurricane-focused stories-both of them neutral.)

The data suggest that the media did not run a huge number of stories focused on Obama and the hurricane and even those that did run did not offer a glowing review of the president’s performance. Instead, the storm may have had a more indirect influence on voters who saw passing references to Obama in other Sandy stories. If Obama was not present in 25% of a story about the storm, it would not appear in the data as an Obama related story.

So if, in the course of a long story about storm damage and clean-up efforts, a news outlet devoted a few lines to Chris Christie talking about the insane bipartisan awesomeness that is Barack Obama, that wouldn’t count for this survey even if it might count for a voter. Jim Geraghty makes a nice point too that Sandy preparation may have given disappointed former Obama fans just enough reason to feel good about him again. Think how many low-information voters — people who typically don’t watch the news — were watching during that last week to stay abreast of storm updates. Any time O stepped to a podium and made a statement about what was going on and what FEMA was doing to help, the networks featured that. They featured video of his “message: I care” disaster tour of New Jersey with Christie too. It may not have lost Romney any votes but it could have won a few for O that he was expecting wouldn’t be there this year. And yes, I realize I’ve already written a post that purported to debunk the “hurricane mattered” theory by noting the timeline of when O’s final poll surge began, but there might be a flaw in my theory. I pointed out last week that his numbers began to tick upward on October 26, three days before Sandy made landfall. That’s true — but it’s also true that Obama was making statements about the storm before it struck the coast, so in theory he was already earning message-I-care points with would-be voters. In fact, some quickie googling reveals one briefing as early as … October 26. I still don’t think the hurricane was decisive, but I’ve been fighting the feeling that it mattered at all and now, well…


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…S U R P R I S E D…!!!

KOOLAID2 on November 19, 2012 at 7:48 PM

It’s a tax? A tax?? A TAX??? JOHN ROBERTS YOU MORON!

El_Terrible on November 19, 2012 at 7:49 PM

SHOCKER!

Next big revelation – water is wet.

gophergirl on November 19, 2012 at 7:50 PM

…economy…dead Americans…grren energy loans gone bad…lies…lies…and more lies…nothing going on there!

KOOLAID2 on November 19, 2012 at 7:51 PM

our eye-candy leader has make some, well, blunders overseas again.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100190254/barack-obama-blunders-again-on-the-world-stage/

those foreign names are sooooooo hard.

r keller on November 19, 2012 at 7:53 PM

“He’s so dreamy… (tee hee)” – msm

Seven Percent Solution on November 19, 2012 at 7:55 PM

It doesn’t take a poll to know what happened. It began four years ago and America’s enemy, the corrupt legacy media killed it.

d1carter on November 19, 2012 at 7:57 PM

So Obowmao has never lost an election … so says a ‘journalist’ member of the WHPC. Wow, just wow.
(Now is that White House Press Corpsmen or just Corps?)
King Putt was elected after his aparachiks released the private divorce settelement agreement between Jery Ryan (sp?) and the canidate Ryan.
This settlement was a SEALED ruling and neither party to the agreement … agreed to RELEASE the information. Yet, President Present and his henchmen somehow got the docs and released them. With juicy comments added no less.
We have an Ambassador murdered (equivalent to a 4 star in governmental rank) and now we have another 4 Star who was told to LIE about Ambassador Steven’s MURDER. And he is shown the ‘sword of Damaclies’ and just before the election … complies.
So what did the aprachiks have on Supreme Court Justice Roberts? When will the SPM (Single Party Media) look into this?
When pigs fly.

Missilengr on November 19, 2012 at 8:00 PM

dude?
REO?

really…

ted c on November 19, 2012 at 8:02 PM

To repeat a point I made in the post at the last link, MSNBC is less a liberal answer to Fox than it is a liberal answer to the left’s caricature of Fox.

:) But nobody watches MSNBC.

lexhamfox on November 19, 2012 at 8:06 PM

Let’s take an open wound

Let’s rub some salt in it

And see if it stings.

Enough, already. Enough.

Key West Reader on November 19, 2012 at 8:08 PM

One problem Mitt had related to this was that the Gallup Poll, which was one of the most favorable for him before Sandy — he was 5 points up — stopped polling for about a week due to the storm. When Gallup finally came back, Mitt was still up 1 point. If Gallup had been able to poll, Mitt might have had a few more reports of polls where he was up.

J.S.K. on November 19, 2012 at 8:09 PM

Breaking news.. Water is wet

celticdefender on November 19, 2012 at 8:10 PM

The primary format really needs to be addressed.

Elections should all take place before May 1st, with less emphasis placed on Iowa and New Hampshire. Neither went to the GOP in the general; why do we consistently let them have so much input on our candidate? Three election days- third week of February, third week of March, and final week of April. Two debates before each election day, the final on April 15th.

We can’t fight the bully pulpit of the presidency and the media with only two months worth of campaigning and fund-raising.

BKeyser on November 19, 2012 at 8:11 PM

Same media that after a Biblical proportion earthquake, Tsunami, with nuclear meltdowns runs a bit on recycling in the aftermath.

Agendas.

wolly4321 on November 19, 2012 at 8:11 PM

Bill OReilley was just horrifically sexist and condescending to Mary Katherine Ham. Even my kids said so.

ted c on November 19, 2012 at 8:19 PM

I f***ing hate the press. If they treated Obama as they did Bush, he would be packing his bags. We have a long way to go in offsetting their power. That is all.

thebrokenrattle on November 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM

Where’s the percentage for “I never did decide, I just put the checks in the boxes that the nice man that gave me beer money told me to”?

slickwillie2001 on November 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM

Bill OReilley was just horrifically sexist and condescending to Mary Katherine Ham. Even my kids said so.

ted c on November 19, 2012 at 8:19 PM

They were correct. He was a complete ass.

derft on November 19, 2012 at 8:22 PM

OT……

I don’t think Mary Katherine Ham will be appearing on Bill O’Reilly again.

I cannot believe the way he just talked to her. She was visibly stunned.

JPeterman on November 19, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Bill OReilley was just horrifically sexist and condescending to Mary Katherine Ham. Even my kids said so.

ted c on November 19, 2012 at 8:19 PM

He did it because she wouldn’t wholeheartedly agree with him. He owes MKH an apology. I’m about to make some changes in what I watch and read and BOR is going to be one of the changes…the WaPo editorial board criticism must have really stung him.

d1carter on November 19, 2012 at 8:24 PM

Perhaps maybe just maybe the reason why the “media” likes the president is simply because they and the vast majority of Americans can relate better to his policies.

Maybe if the republicans stop dividing Americans into takers and makers. If they stop being the party that is against working Americans. The party that has this unrealistic notion that unless u own a business you are a bum, maybe the media and most of the American electorate might like them too.

HotAirLib on November 19, 2012 at 8:27 PM

You’re saying that the in-the-tank media pretty much swung it for Obama because the country is mostly filled with low-info voters. That’s how I read it.

If that’s true, then there’s no other option but to start bribing them with goodies. OR, the other harder solution, start trying to educate them outside the old, unworkable parameters of yesteryear.

RebeccaH on November 19, 2012 at 8:28 PM

I’m not going to take a graph seriously when it’s prepared by someone who is rationing percentage signs.

Axe on November 19, 2012 at 8:30 PM

Who crucified Mitt Romney?

Speakup on November 19, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Bill OReilley was just horrifically sexist and condescending to Mary Katherine Ham. Even my kids said so.ted c on November 19, 2012 at 8:19 PM

Billy the clown has always been horrifically sexiest to a lot of liberal women and never once have I seen any outrage from the conservative base over this. It was only a matter of time before he turned to conservative women.

HotAirLib on November 19, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Perhaps maybe just maybe the reason why the “media” likes the president is simply because they and the vast majority of Americans can relate better to his policies.

We can’t afford it..

Electrongod on November 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Monday Night Football is just not the same without Hank Williams Jr.

gophergirl on November 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM

Its pathetic, but if the GOP ever wants to win again, they need to not let the media define them. Not sure how they can accomplish that with the media, minus fox, essentially an extension of the DNC…

Jack_Burton on November 19, 2012 at 8:45 PM

Salesman refer to that as “closing the deal”.

OxyCon on November 19, 2012 at 8:46 PM

Bill OReilley was just horrifically sexist and condescending to Mary Katherine Ham. Even my kids said so.

ted c on November 19, 2012 at 8:19 PM

They were correct. He was a complete ass.

derft on November 19, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Ted Baxter is always a complete sexist ass on days that end in ‘ay’.

slickwillie2001 on November 19, 2012 at 8:50 PM

We needed a Pew media study to figure this out?

Terrye on November 19, 2012 at 8:58 PM

SHOCKER!

Next big revelation – water is wet.

gophergirl on November 19, 2012 at 7:50 PM

Was going to type the exact same thing. ;)

kim roy on November 19, 2012 at 9:01 PM

THe week before Sandy, poll after poll showed Republicans leading in terms of enthusiasm. Then, national polling essentially stopped for a few days, and when it came back it showed Republicans and Democrats about equally enthused.

As I’ve said a few times before, there were three ways people could’ve voted on election day, Romney, Obama, or stay at home. I doubt the Hurricane changed the minds of most individuals who had already made up their minds, but usually only about five percent of the electorate makes their decision in the last week. This year it was closer to ten percent.

This suggests to me, that a number of disaffected Obama supporters were given just enough positive coverage to convince them to get out and vote for Obama. It may not have made a difference in the end, because we don’t know how many of these people would have gotten out otherwise. It may have been only a very modest boost, or it could account for most of the turnout that’s been attributed to the Obama’s Get Out The Vote machine. Either way, its clear it made a difference, we just cannot say how much.

The real question is, if this was indeed what happened, why Romney’s campaign was so fragile. My suspicion on this front is that, he simply caught on too late. Too much of the electorate had already ruled him out before the first debate, so the choice among these individuals was always going to be, Obama or stay at home.

Had Romney’s breakout moment been say, the convention instead of the debate, the Hurricane may not have made any difference.

WolvenOne on November 19, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Billy the clown has always been horrifically sexiest to a lot of liberal women and never once have I seen any outrage from the conservative base over this. It was only a matter of time before he turned to conservative women.

HotAirLib on November 19, 2012 at 8:33 PM

That’s because the “conservative base” doesn’t want to do anything. We should be boycotting sponsors of MSNBC and refusing to line the pockets of Hollywood and various media outlets.

The liberals take it to us all the time yet we never learn or fight back.

Case in point: Look at the next in lines feeding off the carcass of Romney to the media. Really? Less than two weeks from the election and there they are feeding intel to the enemy.

I refuse to watch BOR and very little of Fox anymore. Can find what I need for free on the internet and now with coolpreviews can avoid giving certain websites clicks. It’s not hard, so not sure what the problem is.

kim roy on November 19, 2012 at 9:06 PM

Billy the clown has always been horrifically sexiest to a lot of liberal women and never once have I seen any outrage from the conservative base over this. It was only a matter of time before he turned to conservative women.

HotAirLib on November 19, 2012 at 8:33 PM

FO until you complain about your douchbags like Ed Schultz. Just F.O.

hawkdriver on November 19, 2012 at 9:14 PM

Perhaps maybe just maybe the reason why the “media” likes the president is simply because they and the vast majority of Americans can relate better to his policies.

Maybe if the republicans stop dividing Americans into takers and makers. If they stop being the party that is against working Americans. The party that has this unrealistic notion that unless u own a business you are a bum, maybe the media and most of the American electorate might like them too.

HotAirLib on November 19, 2012 at 8:27 PM

I can relate well to booze and junk food. Doesn’t mean it’s good for me or the smart, adult thing to do.

But to your point – what I think it is is all these wealthy people who make enough money in one year that most people could comfortably retire on feeling guilty that they can do it so they erroneously think they’re helping the “little people” by trying to get them more goodies, not realizing that by infantilizing them they’re doing these “little people” no favors.

You notice that most of the rich people who believe they’ve worked hard for it or accept their wealth aren’t liberals? Funny that, huh?

If you don’t like that train of thought, how about the elite keeping the population stupid and infantilized. What better way with economic dependence and dumbing down?

You see, conservatives want to see EVERYONE rich. Liberals don’t.

kim roy on November 19, 2012 at 9:17 PM

Had Romney’s breakout moment been say, the convention instead of the debate, the Hurricane may not have made any difference.

WolvenOne on November 19, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Romney simply refused to run an aggressive campaign despite a large amount of cash. His campaign was perfectly happy to excoriate his Republican opponents during the primaries. Obama, the real adversary? Not so much. There was a genuine fear of coming across as too “right-wing”, so we got a lukewarm, at best, convention. No major advertising before the convention, precious little after. No solid conservatives on deck at the convention. Mitt was so lukewarm, the media had to go to the second string for people to demonize, so Akin and Mourdoch became “the debil” and because of Mitt’s lack of personality, it was easy for the media to paint the impolitic comments made by those two onto Romney.

No more moderates!

AZfederalist on November 19, 2012 at 9:23 PM

Any American who gives traffic to the media isn’t interested in preserving America.

beatcanvas on November 19, 2012 at 9:33 PM

Maybe if the republicans stop dividing Americans into takers and makers.

HotAirLib on November 19, 2012 at 8:27 PM

Bush lowered tax rates across the board.

The divider ‘n chief selected one group of Americans to demonize.

If you’re going to rewrite history maybe you ought to wait ’til folks who’ve lived it have passed on.

antipc on November 19, 2012 at 9:34 PM

AZfederalist on November 19, 2012 at 9:23 PM

I’m sorry, but this statement just isn’t true. The Romney campaign hammered Obama mercilessly on his record. Every commercial, every campaign stop, every day the Romney campaign didn’t spend a single hour where they did not hammer Obama on his record.

There are only two instances I can think of where this wasn’t the case. One, was the convention, and this isn’t unusual, the VP and the keynote speaker are typically tasked with attacking the opponent during a convention. Ryan got a couple good jabs in during his speech, but Christie was unusually hands off, so you can blame him for that.

The second instance was the third debate, when Romney didn’t go out of his way to hit Obama on Benghazi. This may have been a mistake, but there were two issues at this moment that makes it an understandable mistake.

The first issue was, the simple fact that the story on Bengazi had changed so much, so fast, that finding a simple coherent method of attack would have been difficult. The weekend leading up to that debate, the story changed at least twice, so any attack would’ve been rough and unpracticed.

The second issue was the fact that the Romney campaigns pollsters truely thought he was ahead at this time. He may very well have been, but this rational still would have been a mistake. Even if you think you’re ahead, wise consultants will usually advise you to act like you’re behind.

Aside from that third debate however, I can think of no instance where Romney himself went easy on Obama at the appropriate moment. There are a few instances where he could have attacked when it would have been inappropriate, but that wouldn’t have helped him any.

WolvenOne on November 19, 2012 at 9:34 PM

Nothing new here…we knew this all along.

b1jetmech on November 19, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Destroy the leftist media.

-Pick the most egregious network.
-Investigate their CEO and primary news anchor. Find any evidence of any leftist connections and collusion with other networks or the Dems.
-Publicize them.
-Protest outside their studios.
-Protest outside their homes 24-7-365.
-Boycott their sponsors.
-Write to their sponsors.
-Write to your Congress critters and insist that they publicly denounce the biased and corrupt media that has destroyed the country.

justltl on November 19, 2012 at 9:36 PM

Pick a leftist celebrity.
Attend their show en masse.
Boo throughout their show.
Boycott their sponsors.
Write continuously to their sponsors.

Make them swallow and choke on Alinsky’s tactics.

justltl on November 19, 2012 at 9:42 PM

The Leftist Media is the enemy and are responsible for the destruction of this country.
Imagine how different things would have been, had we had a truly fair and balanced media these last 50 years.

justltl on November 19, 2012 at 9:46 PM

I’m sorry, but this statement just isn’t true. The Romney campaign hammered Obama mercilessly on his record. Every commercial, every campaign stop, every day the Romney campaign didn’t spend a single hour where they did not hammer Obama on his record.

Aside from that third debate however, I can think of no instance where Romney himself went easy on Obama at the appropriate moment. There are a few instances where he could have attacked when it would have been inappropriate, but that wouldn’t have helped him any.

WolvenOne on November 19, 2012 at 9:34 PM

The thing is that Romney waited until way late to air those ads. Look back on this blog; during late summer, early fall, people here were asking, “where are the commercials?” While Obama was hammering Romney’s character, the counter-ads were vastly outnumbered by Obama’s ads or non-existent. Even after the convention, large-scale campaign advertising didn’t start until October.

As far as the convention, it wasn’t just lack of attack, it was lack of motivational speakers. No goodwill gestures to the conservative base. Not inviting Palin while giving Christie a keynote was just another slap at conservatives. Those of us who saw the evil of what a second Obama term would mean were able to look past that. Unfortunately, it looks like a lot of people weren’t — IMHO, they are going to profoundly regret what their abstaining from voting out Obama will mean.

AZfederalist on November 19, 2012 at 9:55 PM

AZfederalist on November 19, 2012 at 9:55 PM

By law the Romney campaign could not use general election funds until after the convention. Most campaigns will use money leftover from the primaries to run advertisements, but the Romney campaign had almost no money left after the primaries, and had to use most of what was left to fund the construction of a national campaign.

This is why, until the convention, the Romney campaign largely relied on SuperPacs for advertisements. To be fair, a lot of the advertisements running during this time were good, but most simply restated Obama’s poor record, which obviously wasn’t enough to dissuade many. I cannot think of one SuperPac ad that really tried to build up Romney, and none really came up with a good defense for those attacks. Again though, this is largely the fault of the SuperPac’s at this time. The Romney campaign simply could not afford to match Obama’s advertising at the time.

As for the, “lack of conservative speakers at the convention.” This, I find to be rather spacious logic. Paul Ryan, and Christie are usually lumped in on the conservative side of the party, and there were numerous other speakers that could easily be considered reliably conservative. Then there were all the speaking slots that were never really covered by the press, even Ron Paul was given a speaking spot, it just wasn’t really covered. The only conservative you cite, whom was not given a speaking role, was Sarah Palin, whom is already a very widely known figure nationally. Maybe it was a mistake not to run her, but you cannot honestly state that no conservatives were given speaking spots at the convention.

Besides that, you just changed your complaint from being insufficiently aggressive, to not reaching out to the base. I may be reading into this too much, but in my experience people pivot like this when they realize they’ve lost an argument, but do not wish to concede that fact.

Again, may be reading into it too much.

WolvenOne on November 19, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Paul Ryan, and Christie are usually lumped in on the conservative side of the party, and there were numerous other speakers that could easily be considered reliably conservative.

WolvenOne on November 19, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Who in their right mind considers Christie on the conservative side of the party? Christie has long been considered part of the liberal wing of the GOP: refusing to join the suit against ObamaCare, stands on global warming, the Second Amernment, Islam and the World Trade Center Mosque, etc.

Christie is a fiscal conservative (although not as conservative as billed) and pro-life. That is the extent of Christie’s conservatism.

bw222 on November 19, 2012 at 10:24 PM

bw222 on November 19, 2012 at 10:24 PM

Key words are, “usually lumped in with conservatives.” Also, at the time Christie was reasonably popular among Conservatives. Maybe not as popular among the self identified true-con contingent as Palin is, but generally well liked in any case.

Frankly, I have some problems with Christie myself, but I also have problems with people whom play these silly little purity games.

The way I see it, we’re outnumbered enough without us taking shots at each other.

WolvenOne on November 19, 2012 at 10:57 PM

HotAirLib on November 19, 2012 at 8:27 PM

Except to the blind, no one divides AmeriKa more than Obama does.

Schadenfreude on November 20, 2012 at 1:56 AM

Perhaps maybe just maybe the reason why the “media” likes the president is simply because they and the vast majority of Americans can relate better to his policies.

Maybe if the republicans stop dividing Americans into takers and makers. If they stop being the party that is against working Americans. The party that has this unrealistic notion that unless u own a business you are a bum, maybe the media and most of the American electorate might like them too.

HotAirLib on November 19, 2012 at 8:27 PM

LOL

I think it’s cute you believe that.

Good Lt on November 20, 2012 at 7:41 AM

I don’t care what is said about them, unanswered attack ads do work. That’s how Tester beat Rehberg and how Bullock beat Hill for governor.

Kissmygrits on November 20, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Remember when politicians won reelection by campaigning on their accomplishments and a positive view of America? Me either.

RobertE on November 20, 2012 at 9:37 AM