Pew studies tone of candidate coverage


A look at press coverage of candidates running in the 2012 presidential race from Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism shows that Rick Perry has had the benefit of the most positive coverage, and incumbent Barack Obama the least. The study measures the first phase of the campaign through early October.

The study mainly surveyed Republicans, since there are no announced challengers to Obama on the Democratic side. The list besides Perry and Obama includes Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, John Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlenty exited the race in August. Palin never entered and recently announced her intention to remain on the sidelines. Since early October, Cain’s fortunes have taken a positive turn, as has the amount of press he has been getting.

The study looks at coverage over five media, including newspaper, online, network television, cable and radio sources.

PEJ also tallied the total amount of coverage for Republicans only – Rick Perry won that one too with 17%, followed by steady contender Mitt Romney’s 13%.

Newt Gingrich received the most negative coverage at 35%, followed closely by Obama’s 34%.
All candidates generally could count on neutral coverage – it was invariably the biggest of the three categories in all cases, ranging from 46% to 62%.

Here are the PEJ coverage survey results.

Candidate Positive Neutral Negative Coverage
Rick Perry 32% 48% 20% 17%
Sarah Palin 31% 47% 22% 7%
Michele Bachmann 31% 46% 23% 10%
Herman Cain 28% 49% 23% 2%
Mitt Romney 26% 47% 27% 13%
Rick Santorum 23% 51% 26% 2%
Ron Paul 21% 62% 17% 2%
John Huntsman 21% 62% 17% 3%
Newt Gingrich 15% 50% 35% 7%
Tim Pawlenty 12% 58% 30% 5%
Barack Obama 9% 57% 34%
Source: Project for Excellence in Journalism