Throughout the majority of this year’s Presidential campaign, Obama had led the likability contest among those voters who have been amplified by the media (i.e. they have been sued as sources in news stories), and Romney had been receiving significant negative coverage from these citizen newsmakers. In other words, the reporters have used the ‘man on the street’ in their stories to question Romney’s character. This trend, or device, has reversed dramatically during the debate cycle.
Prior to this fall’s debate cycle, from September 1 – October 2, citizen newsmaker sentiment was very favorable toward Obama and unfavorable toward Romney. One-third of the sentiment in citizen newsmaker statements during this time period was positive to Obama, and 30.5% was negative to Romney.
However, in coverage since the start of the debate cycle and up until the final debate, citizen sentiment has shifted to be much more favorable toward Romney. From October 3-21, 27.1% of citizen newsmaker statements had a positive sentiment toward Romney. Romney also had less negative coverage toward himself than Obama did. This clearly demonstrates that reporters have shifted their use of the “citizen as source” within their reporting. The result is good news for Romney.