Citizens have expressed much less concern about Obama’s character than they have about Romney’s. While both candidates have received more negative coverage on their character than positive, Romney’s character is much more of a factor in determining votes.

Chart shows topic and sentiment distribution of statements about Mitt Romney by citizens in media coverage of the election.  Time frame is April 13 – June 16.

Chart shows topic and sentiment distribution of statements about Mitt Romney by citizens in media coverage of the election. Time frame is April 13 – June 16.

Since general election media coverage began in mid-April, when citizen newsmakers have discussed Romney they’ve talked about his character more than any other topic. Over 50% of statements about Mitt Romney from citizens in election coverage have been about his character since mid-April, and 25% of those statements have been negative with only 18% being positive. Citizen newsmakers concern for Mitt Romney’s character has been significant in election media coverage since the beginning of the GOP Primary, during which 48% of statements from citizens about Romney were about his character, with 41% of those statements being negative and 41% positive. Therefore, while citizens have amplified less opinionated sentiment about Romney’s character in the general election season, the amount of focus on it has remained and the sentiment ratio has tilted slightly more negative.

Chart shows topic and sentiment distribution of statements about Barack Obama by citizens in media coverage of the election.  Time frame is April 13 – June 16.

Chart shows topic and sentiment distribution of statements about Barack Obama by citizens in media coverage of the election. Time frame is April 13 – June 16.

In comparison with the sentiment toward Romney, citizen newsmakers in election coverage aren’t as concerned about Obama’s character. When talking about Obama, citizen newsmakers are discussing a broader range of topics, including social issues and economy. Over one-third (35%) of statements about Obama among citizens have been about those two topics combined, but that number goes down to 14% when it comes to Romney. Fewer than 25% of statements from citizens about Obama in election coverage since mid-April have been about his character. Among these statements, Obama has a slightly more negative ratio with 42% being negative and 34% being positive. However, this negative ratio carries less weight than Romney’s because there is much less of a focus on Obama’s character than on Romney’s.