Our data shows a clear correlation between the releases of national employment data each month, and the discussion of the economy in election coverage. Our data also shows that focused Romney criticism toward Obama appears to be coordinated with these releases as well.
On June 19, the 4thEstate published this post about how the May employment report, released on June 1st, caused an increase in discussion of the economy and an increase in Romney’s criticism of Obama in election coverage in early June. Our data shows this pattern occurred in early May and early July as well, when April and June’s employment reports were released. Coverage of the economy and negative statements toward Obama from Romney increased on both occasions.
Discussion of the economy in all election coverage increased most consistently following each employment report. From May 1 to May 8, coverage of the economy increased from 10% to 19% of total coverage. From May 29 to June 5, it increased from 14% to 33%, and from July 3 to July 10 it spiked from 6% to 25%.
Similarly, statements from Romney that were critical of Obama increased with each report. The topic of the economy has been Romney’s focus. He has consistently hammered Obama for mishandling the recession. Over 40% of Romney’s statements that have been critical of Obama in election coverage since January 1st have been about the economy. Since April, Romney has been using the monthly employment reports as a launching pad for more criticism. In early May, Romney’s statements that were critical of Obama increased from 31% to 53% of Romney’s total statements. From May 29 to June 12 it increased from 38% to 51%. Interestingly in July, negative statements toward Obama from Romney actually decreased. This may be in part because the media was significantly amplifying Romney’s criticism of Obama in late June following the Supreme Court’s healthcare ruling. Over 80% of Romney’s statements that were negative to Obama from June 26 to July 3 were about Healthcare. Therefore, following a period of high criticism, media amplification of Romney criticism appears to have decreased. However, when we look at the small window of July 6 (when June’s employment report was released) to July 10, Romney’s negative statements toward Obama actually increased 25% and almost 70% of these comments were about the economy.