Why does Trump remain atop the polls? The media, mainly

CR: But how do we know that it’s news coverage that’s driving the polls? Couldn’t the reverse be true?

Me: It’s both, but the news coverage moves first. The coverage is what drives people to give a pollster a different answer, or to tweet about a candidate, or to Google that candidate. Of course, once the newly discovered candidate is atop the polls, then the polls justify more news coverage. In some sense, the initial news coverage perpetuates its continuation.

CR: So where’s the scrutiny, though? You said yourself that there was some scrutiny.

Me: I think there has been at least some scrutiny. But what we haven’t seen is a clear trend toward the sort of negative coverage that scrutiny would bring. The firm Crimson Hexagon also codes each news story as positive, negative or neutral.  So we can figure out whether stories that mention Trump are positive, negative or neutral. The graph below subtracts the percentage of stories that are positive from the percentage that are negative, comparing Trump to the average of other GOP candidates.