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Romney’s Getting More Positive Coverage: Analysis

3/19/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Washington — Republican presidential candidate
Mitt Romney emerged from Super Tuesday
(March 6) not only with wins in six of out of 10
races, but with momentum in the national media
narrative.

Romney had the least negative coverage and the
most positive coverage in the national news media
for the week of March 5-11, according to the
Project for Excellence in Journalism’s latest Election
Report, based on its tracking of major national
media outlets in TV, radio, print and online.

For that week, 58% of Romney’s coverage was
positive to only 16% negative — a difference of
42 percentage points, his biggest differential to
date. For No. 2 candidate Rick Santorum, it was
an even 32% split positive and negative.

Only three weeks earlier, after Santorum had
won in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, his
positives outweighed his negatives by 25 percentage
points, while Romney’s negatives were 28 points higher
than his positives.

Romney also had the most coverage as a “significant
presence” in 64% of the stories, vs. 44% for Santorum (“significant presence” means at least 25% of the story).

As for Super Tuesday coverage, from an audience perspective,
cable networks were the big winners, drawing
nearly 5.7 million total viewers in primetime across Fox
News Channel, CNN and MSNBC.

Per usual, Fox News Channel headed the cable pack, but
it also surpassed NBC News, which entered the fray in the 10
p.m. hour with count coverage of the Republican primaries.

FNC averaged 2.84 million total viewers from 8 p.m. to
11 p.m. (ET), while CNN was second with 1.48 million and
MSNBC third with 1.37 million, according to Nielsen data.
Among the target 25-to-54 demo, FNC also set the primetime
pace with 728,000 of those viewers, followed by CNN’s
512,000 and MSNBC’s 381,000 during the same time period.

The 5.7 million who tuned into cable news in primetime
to see the outcome of GOP voting on Super Tuesday was 22%
greater than the approximately 4.7 million who screened coverage
of the Michigan and Arizona primaries a week earlier.

But compared to the 2008 primary cycle, viewer interest
was way down this Super Tuesday, averaging 3 million
fewer total viewers on that night, when there was no
incumbent in the White House and Democrats were also
trying to decide between then-Sen. Hillary Clinton and
then-Sen. Barack Obama.


Andrea Morabito of Broadcasting & Cable contributed to
this report.
September