Rick Perry received the most favorable coverage of any candidate for president during the first five months of the race, but now Herman Cain is enjoying that distinction, according to a new survey which combines traditional research methods and computer algorithmic technology to code the level and tone of news coverage.
Perry lost the mantle of the candidate enjoying the most favorable treatment to Herman Cain two weeks ago, after the Florida straw poll in which Cain scored a surprise victory. Meanwhile, though he has often led in the polls, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has received less coverage and less positive coverage than the shifting casts of frontrunners -- and that remains true even now. He ranks second in the amount of attention received, and the tone of that narrative has been unwaveringly mixed.
One man running for president has suffered the most unrelentingly negative treatment of all: Barack Obama. Though covered largely as president rather than a candidate, negative assessments of Obama have outweighed positive by a ratio of almost 4-to-1. The assessments of the president in the media were substantially more negative than positive in every one of the 23 weeks studied. In no week during these five months was more than 10% of the coverage about the President positive in tone. [my emphasis]
Nice, huh? The full report also shows that Perry gets more news coverage than any other GOP candidate, not just the most favorable. Ron Paul gets the least (although the report indicates that he gets, by far, the most favorable treatment in the blogosphere).
What's this all mean for the election? No idea. I just thought it was interesting (though rather depressing).