For all intensive purposes, Newt Gingrich’s campaign came to a graceful ending point yesterday. It ended with a bit of a whimper despite some comments about a potential brokered convention should Mitt Romney not garner enough delegates before then. In looking back at the arc of coverage of Gingrich over the last 4 months, Gingrich has an argument that there might have been some media bias against his campaign. Newt’s campaign had two unexpected surges in the polls – one in December and a second in January. Both of these surges coincided with spikes in negative statements about Gingrich. As the time series chart shows, the negative sentiment statements outnumbered the positive sentiment statements for both surges. At the peak of both of these surges, the ratio of negative to positive statements about Gingrich was over 2 to 1.
After the February 7th & 11th caucuses and the first stages of Santorum’s emergence, it became clear that Gingrich was probably not a player on Super Tuesday (March 6th). It was only at this point that Gingrich’s positive sentiment rating started outdistancing his negative sentiment rating. The chart clearly shows that, between February 12th and March 18th, positive statements outnumber negative statements by a 2-1 margin – the exact inverse of the ratio when Gingrich was a viable candidate.
Commentators making a case that there was some bias against Gingrich would argue that the positive sentiment ratio only improved once it was perceived that Gingrich was no longer a serious threat to win the Republican nomination. However, any potential bias against Gingrich should not be confused with bias against the leading conservative in the race. Rick Santorum has conservative credentials on a par with Gingrich’s, and as was demonstrated in a previous post, Santorum has not experienced the same degree of negative sentiment ratio at any point during the coverage of his campaign.