Just one week after John McCain finally generated as much campaign coverage as Barack Obama, the parity proved to be short-lived.
For the eighth time in nine weeks, the presumptive Democratic nominee substantially outdistanced his Republican opponent in the competition for exposure, according to PEJ's Campaign Coverage Index. Obama was a significant or dominant factor in 78% of the campaign coverage from August 4-10 compared with 53% for McCain. That is almost identical to the 79% to 54% lead in quantity of coverage Obama has accumulated since the general election campaign began in early June.
A week earlier, with his controversial “celebrity” ad driving the campaign narrative, McCain had, for the first time, virtually tied his rival in the battle for headlines, trailing only 78% to 81%.
Last week, the major story lines turned more to issues—particularly energy policy—discord among Democrats and the search for vice-presidents.
Indeed, even as Obama regained a comfortable lead in the quantity of coverage, certainly some of it was ominous for the Illinois Senator's campaign. Hillary and Bill Clinton resurfaced in campaign news last week—combining as significant or dominant factors in 23% of the coverage—and with them, so, too, did the festering subject of party unity. By week's end, the Clintons' role and the issue of a divided Democratic party had accounted for 12% of the campaign coverage studied.
There were two major components of the narrative about discord. One was Bill Clinton's interview with ABC, in which he appeared to betray residual bitterness about the primaries and Obama. At the same time, new questions surfaced about whether Hillary Clinton supporters want a convention roll call.
Read the full report Once Again, It's Obama Versus Clinton on the Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.