The Big Influence Behind Candidate Talking Points

Feb 28, 2016, 08:00 ET from LexisNexis

DAYTON, Ohio, Feb. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Does breaking news elect the president?

In a presidential election year, it's inevitable that big stories will have an impact on trending candidate talking points: think natural disasters, political standoffs in Congress, oil prices. When news breaks, candidates respond. Reporters also take the initiative to compare candidates' positions during breaking news events. These observations lead one to wonder: When it comes to trending topics, does reaction to mainstream media determine campaign talking points, or do the candidates and their defining Platforms prevail?

Recent LexisNexis® Newsdesk data demonstrates trends in media-covered topics related to the seven current candidates. Here's a look:

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160226/338096

Four of the top eight campaign issues are relatively similar during the last three months of the campaign. Health care, energy & oil, and taxes dominate the political arena, covered in broadcast, print, online news, and talked about in social media, forums and comments on news articles. Immigration shows up fourth in the list of most-covered issues.

To sort out what peaks relate to breaking news, let's see what has affected these trends.

  • Most prominently during 2015, terrorism landed the top spot and then waned as time passed after the Paris attacks.
  • When President Obama signed his gun control measures executive action in January, this was a big chance for candidates to express their views on gun control.
  • Next, focus switched to health care as the House passed measures to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Last we can see a boost in immigration coverage after Pope Francis recently called out Donald Trump for his determination to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

These things considered, do other trends emerge in the last hundred days? Breaking this data down into the separate parties can help us see more:

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160226/338098

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160226/338097

Different trends for sure. If we look past breaking news topics, Democratic candidates' coverage shows peaks in taxes and health care that don't appear in the Republican's graph. Looking at the Republican candidates' coverage, trends in immigration and energy & oil seem to appear. Both instances are fairly consistent with traditional party-line platforms.

And aside from the recent bump in immigration coverage, it does appear as though candidates spoke equally about those top 8 topics between February 8th and February 15th, a week when no debates were held (which are newsworthy events indeed). As the tight race progresses through primaries and caucuses, candidates may be looking for more ways to set themselves apart from the competition, and focusing on these lesser-covered issues gives undecided voters the chance to see minute differences that could guide their decisions on Election Day.

What's your take? Is all of this evidence that the candidates control their media coverage and the topics they find most important? Or does this data show that candidates are simply in reactive mode as they try to fight for their party's respective nominations?

Tweet us at @LexisNexisBiz and let us know. Find more insights on the intersection of media and the presidential election on the LexisNexis Biz Blog.

Data and information powered by LexisNexis Newsdesk.

 

SOURCE LexisNexis



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