Former Vice President Joe Biden returned to the top of the media heap last week.
After two weeks spent trailing behind Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the share of online news stories that mention him, Biden was once again the most mentioned candidate in online news, according to data from Media Cloud,1 a database of online news stories.
And as he has for weeks, he was mentioned in more cable news clips than any other Demcoratic candidate for president. Biden was mentioned in about half of all the clips that mentioned any 2020 Democratic contender last week, according to data from the TV News Archive,2 which chops up cable news across the three networks we monitor — CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC — into 15-second clips. That’s the highest share of cable and online news coverage that Biden has received since the second Democratic debate, and almost the highest since the first debate.
|Cable TV clips the week of …||online stories the week of …|
|Bill de Blasio||2.4||2.2||-0.2||7.7||7.3||-0.4|
While Biden’s coverage increased on both mediums, both Warren and Sanders were mentioned a little more in cable news clips but not in online news stories. The biggest gain of the week — outside of Biden — came from Andrew Yang, whose share of online news stories increased the most after that of the former vice president. Yang’s share of online news mentions almost doubled between last week and the previous week, but he didn’t see much of an increase in the share of cable news clips that mentioned him. Last Tuesday, the hashtag #YangMediaBlackout trended on Twitter after CNN didn’t include him in a graphic of a Quinnipiac poll, even though he polled higher than another candidate who was included.
Despite the increase in Yang’s online coverage, he still doesn’t get anywhere near as much media attention as the highest-polling candidates in either medium. As the field continues to winnow, the media seems to be focusing more of its attention on Biden, Warren and Sanders.
Our search queries are the full names of each candidate, except for Julian Castro. Since his name is sometimes written with an accent mark and sometimes without, our search query for him looks for “Julian Castro” OR “Julián Castro.” We aggregate the data from Sunday through Saturday of each week to match the queries of TV news. Media Cloud dates articles based on when the article page says the story was published, which means that it is insensitive to time zones and its cutoff times each week may be slightly different than the times used for the cable news data.
The TV News Archive measures coverage by splitting CNN, Fox News and MSNBC’s daily news footage into 15-second clips and finding the clips that contain a mention of our search query. Our search queries are the full names of each candidate. The GDELT Television API, which processes the data from the TV News Archive, measures a week of coverage from Sunday through Saturday. The cutoff for measuring coverage for any given day is midnight Eastern Standard Time. (Clock changes for Daylight Saving Time are ignored.)
Dhrumil Mehta is a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight focusing on politics. @DataDhrumil