News Interest Index: More Hear Negative News About Michelle Obama than Cindy McCain

Jun 17, 2008

With the major party nominations now settled, the images of the candidates' wives are coming into sharper focus. While opinions about Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama are mostly positive, Mrs. Obama has emerged as the more high profile and controversial spouse.

More Americans have heard a lot about Michelle Obama than Cindy McCain, and Mrs. Obama has received much more media coverage than Mrs. McCain. However, somewhat more of those who have heard about Mrs. Obama say the coverage of her has been mostly negative rather than mostly positive (by 26% to 21%); by comparsion, 31% of those who have heard about Mrs. McCain say coverage of her has been mostly positive while just 7% say it has been generally negative.

Overall, 78% of Americans have heard at least a little about Michelle Obama. Three-in-ten say they have heard a lot about Mrs. Obama, up from 21% just three weeks ago. By contrast, just 54% have heard at least a little about Cindy McCain, including only 9% who have heard a lot about her.

News coverage of Michelle Obama has far outweighed that of Cindy McCain. According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism's Campaign Coverage Index, from Jan. 1 through June 15 of this year, Obama appeared as a significant newsmaker in 102 stories. Cindy McCain has appeared in just 28 stories over this period1 . Coverage of Michelle Obama has increased dramatically in recent weeks - nearly half of the stories featuring her have appeared in the national news media since May 14.

Read the complete findings Coverage of the Candidates' Wives on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.

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