The major topics of election coverage shifted in quantity of coverage from before, during, and after the conventions. Entitlements were of high focus going into the RNC, while Foreign Policy rose to prominence upon exiting the DNC.

Chart shows percentage of statements about different issues in election coverage.  Only top 5 topics shown.  Time frame is August 18 – September 14.

Chart shows percentage of statements about different issues in election coverage. Only top 5 topics shown. Time frame is August 18 – September 14.

Prior to the Republican National Convention, coverage of Entitlements (purple) was at 31.7% of total election coverage. After coverage of Candidate Character, it was the most-covered topic going into the RNC. However, once the RNC began, Entitlements coverage dropped to 6% of total election coverage and never re-surfaced during and after the DNC.

During the week of the RNC (August 27-31), coverage of Candidate Character (yellow) increased from 6.4% of total election coverage to 35.5% during the weekend following the convention. Interestingly, discussion of the Economy (green), was extremely low during the RNC. It never breached 6% of total election coverage and not until the first few days of the DNC did it reach 24.1% of coverage. This shows that the Republicans were highly focused on discussing Mitt Romney’s character, and their speeches were centered on that topic, which caused discussion of it to amplify across the media space.

On the other hand, Obama and his team shifted the discussion back to the economy during the DNC. That shift in discussion, along with the release of the August jobs report on September 7, caused Economy coverage to increase to 30.4% during the weekend after the DNC. In the week following the DNC, the major issue suddenly became Foreign Policy (red). The attack on the US Embassy in Libya on September 11th caused an attention shift to Foreign Policy strategy of the candidates.