In a period that began with speeches on foreign policy by both candidates and ended with Barack Obama traveling to the Middle East, more than one-third of the campaign coverage last week focused on Iraq and Afghanistan and Obama's trip, according to the Campaign Coverage Index of Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism for the week of July 14-20.
The week was also the sixth straight since the general election began in which Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, Obama, enjoyed a distinct advantage in the race for exposure over the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain. Last week, Obama was a significant presence in 83% of campaign stories studied, vs. McCain in 52%. (To be a significant presence in a story, 25% of the story must be about that person.)
That advantage for Obama is only slightly higher than what he has enjoyed throughout this early phase of the general election period. In the six weeks since Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign and the general election phase began, Obama has been a significant factor in 78% of the stories and McCain in 51%. The closest they have come in coverage was the week of June 30 through July 6, when Obama enjoyed an 11 percentage point advantage (73% of stories about Obama vs. 62% for McCain).
There were some other storylines in the campaign last week. After Obama's trip (23% of the campaign newshole) and Iraq as an issue (another 13%), came the appearance of the two candidates before the NAACP (12%) and controversy over a satirical New Yorker magazine cover (10%).
Overall, the campaign filled 27% of the newshole in PEJ's Campaign Coverage Index (CCI), once again more than any other topic.
Read the full report War Takes Center Stage as Obama (and Media) Moves Overseas on the Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.