October 14, 2014

Media coverage of the 2016 presidential race heats up

2016 Candidates in the NewsHillary Clinton and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have received more media coverage than other potential presidential candidates, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of top U.S. newspapers. A search of 15 of the top papers in LexisNexis found that from Jan. 1-Sept. 27, 2014, Christie and Clinton were each the subject of 82 campaign stories linking them to a possible White House run. In 2013, Clinton also topped our list, with 66 stories.

Amid recent speculation that Mitt Romney was considering a possible third run at the executive office, the former Massachusetts governor comes in third with 74 campaign stories. Following Romney is Texas Senator Ted Cruz (68), Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (67) and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (53).

Overall, more stories have talked about potential GOP candidates (202) than Democratic ones (115). There are 11 individual Republicans that have been mentioned in at least 20 stories. The only Democrat other than Clinton to match this attention is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, with 22 stories. (But that’s still one-fourth the amount of coverage that Clinton received.) Even Vice President Joe Biden, who has hinted that he would be interested in running, was only mentioned in 18 campaign stories.

Although we’re still two years out from the presidential race, there’s more coverage this time around than in previous election cycles. In the first nine months of the year, there have been 541 newspaper stories written about the 2016 presidential campaign. That is double the number of stories (271) the 2012 campaign generated during the same time period in 2010. 

In the first nine months of 2006, there were 460 campaign stories written about the 2008 presidential race. That’s higher than the coverage four years later, when President Obama did not have a challenger. This helps illustrate that in an election cycle with two potentially heated primary seasons (like 2008 and 2016) news coverage increases.

Another reason for the uptick in campaign coverage this year may be related to headline-grabbing controversies involving possible candidates. Chris Christie’s Bridgegate dispute earlier in the year put his 2016 hopes in the spotlight, and a recent debate about Chelsea Clinton’s role at NBC also brought attention to Hillary Clinton’s potential run for the presidency.

You can see the methodology for this report here.

Topics: Elections and Campaigns, News Content Analysis

  1. Photo of Paul Hitlin

    is a senior researcher focusing on internet, science and technology at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Monica Anderson

    is a research associate focusing on internet, science and technology at Pew Research Center.


  1. Paul Senatori2 years ago

    Great article. Possibly the massively crowded field has also added to the increasing coverage as many newspapers feel obliged to run announcement profiles on each candidate as they formally announce their entry into the race.

    We’re also monitoring the race at mediaQuant.net with monthly media rating updates on the expanded field of candidates, along with 100’s of issues they’re all trying to address with in their respective platforms (data going back to 2012 election for some nice election-to-election comparisons).


  2. Cher CA3 years ago

    I support Hillary Clinton! We are both survivors! I believe in love after love and so does Hillary Clinton! I recently attended a dinner with Hillary and Sharon Stone. Sharon spoke about surviving Flight 90. We all cried and gave a group hug! Sharon looked death in the face and lived. Hillary spoke about her house fire. All I could see was flames and my children screamed for Jesus to help them. I spoke about a sexless marriage and children that hurt me day after day. At the end of the day all we did was cry. I later sang some songs with Sharon and Hillary. Hillary said she is disappointed that the United States will not replace Air Force One with a newer 747-8. That is what is wrong with Washington! Everybody is looking for free help and nobody wants to update. All of us are in a Christmas ornament club. This is all we have left!