We have spent the last few days comparing 4thEstate results to the results of the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism’s (PEJ) study on “How the Media Covered the 2012 Primary Campaign”. There are interesting parallels and contrasts in the comparative data. In today’s post, we exhibit the tight correlation between our data and PEW’s data when it comes to the analysis of coverage of Rick Santorum from January to April 2012. Both PEJ and 4thEstate data shows that Santorum had four coverage spikes (chart 1 below). These spikes correlated to:

  • Following his victory in Iowa on January 3.
  • Following his victories in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado on February 7.
  • Following his final primary win in Louisiana on March 24.
  • Santorum’s withdrawal from the race.

When one compares the 4thEstate trend line chart to that of PEJ, the correlation is extremely tight (PEJ Chart: Pew’s graph of Santorum’s coverage volume). There is a difference in the measurement scale related to the difference in methodologies. PEJ got their numbers by calculating the percentage of stories in which Santorum was discussed over 25% of the time. 4thEstate data calculates the percentage of total statements about Santorum out of all statements made in all articles of the sample.

Shows percentage of statements about Santorum during the GOP Primaries from Jan 2- Apr 15.

4thEstate NewsPoll data also shows that statements from the citizen newsmaker type drove Santorum’s three periods of major coverage. Statements from the citizen newsmaker type spiked at the same times as did Santorum’s overall coverage (chart 1): January 3 (Iowa victory), February 7 (Minnesota, Colorado, Missouri victories), and March 24 (Louisiana victory).

Chart 2 shows percentage of statements about Santorum from the citizen newsmaker type during GOP Primaries (Jan 2-Apr 15). Chart 3 shows topic and sentiment distribution of statements about Santorum from the citizen newsmaker type during GOP Primaries (Jan 2-Apr 15).

By examining statements from the citizen newsmaker type more deeply in chart 3, we see that over 40% of their statements about Santorum are concerning his character and 76% of it is positive. Even though many citizens liked Santorum for being a family man with good values and a “true conservative”, they didn’t see him as a viable competitor in the general election against Obama.