There has been a recent sharp increase in the coverage of Candidate Character. While Romney has received more coverage on the issue, he has received the most criticism on the topic in July.
Big Spike in Character Coverage in July
The discussion of Candidate Character (orange) in election coverage has spiked significantly in the month of July, driven in large part by the Bain Issue (as illustrated in this previous post). It remains to be seen if our previous statement that “the current Bain issue has been overhyped” turns out to be accurate or not. Up until the beginning of July, focus on Candidate Character in election coverage had been dwindling. It went from 19% of statements in election coverage in early May to just 6% at the end of June. Since July 1, coverage of Candidate Character has increased 27% and in the past week alone, one-third of the statements in election coverage have been about Character.
Coverage of Romney’s Character Very Negative In July
This spike has correlated with an increasingly negative campaign tone. Over 35% of the statements on Character since July 1 have been negative, and 28% have been negative to Romney. The media has given Mitt Romney ample opportunity to respond as he has been the most vocal and has received the most coverage on the issue of any individual newsmaker. Over 28% of statements about Character since July 1 in election coverage have come from Romney and just 13% have come from Obama.
Romney Most Vocal On Candidate Character in July
Despite his overwhelmingly high VoiceShare, Romney has not been able to shift the overall tone of coverage on the topic, which suggests a potentially broken strategy. A better strategy for Romney might involve more focus on changing the topic rather than responding to the current topic. Obama campaign spokespeople such as Stephanie Cutter, David Axelrod and Joe Biden have been very vocal in their critique of Romney’s tenure with Bain, which has largely contributed to both the spike in Character coverage and negativity toward Romney.