This post is the continuation of our media monitoring series examining coverage behavior of various media outlets during Election 2012. Today’s post discusses the statistical data analysis of the topic, sourcing, and sentiment behaviors of USA Today.
In USA Today’s election coverage from May to November, almost one-third (30.4%) was dedicated to Campaign Strategy. Stories about the tactics and exchanges between the campaigns like this one were common on USA Today’s front pages. USA Today covered Campaign Strategy 10% more than the average print outlet in 4th Estate’s statistical data sample. Economy was covered only 13.7% of the time and similar to most media outlets, Candidate Character was covered 18% of the time. Interestingly, USA Today focused very little on issues such as Entitlements, Foreign Policy and Taxes. They were well below the average amount of coverage among all print outlets on these three issues.
The sentiment of USA Today’s election coverage from May to November was more favorable toward Romney. Romney received 3% less negative sentiment than Obama. He also received 1% more positive sentiment than Obama. USA Today’s coverage was slightly more favorable to Romney than the average print outlet in 4th Estate’s statistical data sample.
Among newsmakers outside of the campaigns, citizens had the highest VoiceShare in USA Today’s election coverage. Almost 40% of statements from those newsmakers came from citizens. Citizen VoiceShare increased drastically toward the end of the campaign in all print media. Among coverage from citizens, Obama received 5% more negative sentiment than did Romney. This high negative sentiment from citizens toward Obama was a contributing factor toward Obama’s overall unfavorable sentiment ratio.
Academics also had a high VoiceShare compared to the average print outlet. 13.8% of the coverage among newsmakers outside of the campaigns in USA Today came from Academics (political science professors, deans, etc.), almost double that of the average print outlet.
Among campaign newsmakers, Romney had the highest VoiceShare. Over one-quarter (25.8%) of the coverage in USA Today from campaign newsmakers was driven by Romney, with just 18.5% from Obama. Romney pollster Neil Newhouse also had significant VoiceShare among campaign newsmakers. He had much higher VoiceShare than Obama staffers David Axelrod and Ben Labolt. Paul Ryan also had significantly higher VoiceShare than his counterpart Joe Biden, with more than quadruple the amount of coverage. While granting a higher VoiceShare percentage to Romney as well as amplifying negative citizen newsmaker attitudes toward Obama, USA Today coverage was generally beneficial for the Romney campaign throughout the election cycle.