In election coverage on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews during the final ten days prior to Election Day, there was a heavy focus on Campaign topics. Campaign Strategy consumed 23% of the discussion on Matthews’ show in that time period and a significant amount of it was negative toward Romney. Position in the race (Horse Race) was discussed 22.4% of the time, with Obama receiving significant positive coverage. This shows how merciless Matthews’ guests were on Romney’s Strategy and their optimism toward Obama winning the race. Candidate Character also re-emerged as an issue, taking up over 14% of Hardball’s coverage. Policy issue number one, the economy, consisted of 9.4% of Harball’s coverage. Although it made up a small slice of the discussion, it was by far the most-discussed policy issue in that time period.
On the other hand, FOX’s Special Report with Bret Baier focused heavily on discussion of Horse Race. Over one-third (36.2%) of the coverage on Baier’s program from October 25-November 5 was about Horse Race. Surprisingly, Obama received almost as much positive sentiment in this category as Romney, revealing the realization that Baier’s pundits expressed about Obama having a good closing poll position and chance of winning. The economy was discussed much more in Baier’s coverage than in Matthews’ and the sentiment of the discussion there was surprising. Obama received more positive sentiment in discussion of the economy than did Romney, with 17.5% of the statements on Baier’s coverage being positive to Obama and just 12.5% being positive to Romney. Also surprising is that fact that Romney received more negative coverage on the economy (20% of economy discussion was negative to Romney) than he did positive.