After a summer of hollow election coverage, post-convention coverage has seen policy issues beginning to make their way onto the landscape. Political analysts and pundits are also talking about the debates and making their predictions for November 6.
From June 1 – August 25, prior to the conventions, there were three major topics that attracted the majority of the election coverage. Campaign Strategy, Economy, and Candidate Character consisted of 57.8% of the coverage, combined. Policy issues that got significant coverage included Healthcare, Immigration, and Entitlements.
These three topics got coverage boosts from three events over the summer: Obama’s executive order on immigration in June, the passing of the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court in July, and Romney’s pick of Ryan for running mate that set off a firestorm of coverage on the budget and Medicare. However, overall coverage of the summer was hollow on policy topics and heavily focused on the economy and campaign discussion.
Election coverage starting on September 9, after the conventions, has been a different story. Campaign Strategy, Candidate Character and the Economy top the list for a combined coverage percentage of 47.3%, 10% lower than over the summer. This is because more coverage has shifted onto the policy issues of Foreign Policy and Entitlements. Statements by Romney have fueled both of these coverage increases. First, his statements on Libya have boosted Foreign Policy discussion and second, the “47% video” has boosted discussion of Entitlements.
Coverage of Horse Race (polls, voting demographics, chances of winning) has increased from 4.6% of election coverage over the summer to 9.7% post conventions. There has been consistently more discussion of polls as the election is drawing to a close. The pundits are breaking down swing states and voter demographics to try and predict outcomes on November 6th. Finally, coverage of Debates (red) has made its way onto the top 15 list after getting no coverage during the summer. Analysts are beginning to talk about debate strategy and predicting how they will play out for each candidate. As the debates get closer, this percentage will likely increase.