PEJ Campaign Coverage Index: June 23 - 29, 2008, Democrats and Unity Drive the Campaign Narrative

Jul 01, 2008

Nearly one month after Barack Obama effectively claimed the Democratic nomination, the fallout from the party’s long, and at times bitter, primary fight dominated last week’s campaign narrative.

With Obama and Hillary Clinton’s joint New Hampshire campaign appearance driving the coverage, the theme of divided Democrats—and efforts to unite them—accounted for nearly one-quarter (23%) of the campaign newshole for the week of June 23-29, according to PEJ’s Campaign Coverage Index. When you add in the seemingly uneasy relationship between Obama and Bill Clinton, speculation about the vice-presidential pick and the Denver convention, the chunk of election coverage related to the Democrats’ intra-party issues swells to 29%.

For the second week in a row, differences between Barack Obama and John McCain over energy policy played a major role in the campaign narrative, accounting for 12% of the newshole. No other specific issue came close to generating that level of attention. But combining energy with crime, Iraq, health care, the economy and national security lifts coverage of issue differences between the candidates to more than one-fifth (21%) of the week’s election coverage. In addition, the classic horserace theme of political strategy and polling filled another 10% of the newshole.

But with Hillary Clinton and Obama making their first public appearance together since their contest ended—and with the wounds not fully healed—their June 27 rally in tiny Unity, New Hampshire not only generated major headlines for Obama: Clinton, the ex-candidate who virtually disappeared from the news two weeks ago, managed to attract almost as much coverage last week as McCain.

Read the full report Democrats and Unity Drive the Campaign Narrative on the Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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