For the duration of the GOP Primary, citizen newsmakers discussed candidate Character (orange) more than any other message on a consistent basis. It has been a constant theme that the media has amplified citizens more concerning the candidate personality issue than they have regarding policy issues. From January 2 until May 1, the percentage of statements from citizens about candidate character went as high as 47% and no lower than 26% of total statements. During the same time period, the percentage of statements from Citizens about Social Issues ranged from as low as 1% to as high as 11% of total statements.
However, the debate on gay marriage prompted by endorsements from Obama and Biden dramatically changed the pattern of the media’s amplification of the citizen newsmaker. In the past two weeks, the percentage of statements on social issues by citizens (with a focus on gay marriage) has increased 30% and has almost overtaken the percentage of statements of candidate character. At no other time during the election season have citizens been so amplified on a policy issue. It will be interesting to see how the media decides to amplify the citizens voice as we move toward November. Will the citizen voice on social issues ebb as the gay marriage debate dies down, or will the media decide to source citizen newsmakers on social issues and policy issues?