Announcements, announcements, announcements,Is there any part of the American political process more inane than campaign announcements. The entire purpose of the exercise is to generate news ex nihilo and promote name recognition. In other words, they're all messing with my statistics!
A terrible death to die, terrible death to die,
A terrible death to be talked to death,
A terrible death to die
Announcements, announcements, announcements,
Of course, the media isn't entirely credulous, and such "announced" candidates as Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter barely make a blip in the news. Of course, Paul, Hunter, and a bunch of other "who's?" are from the Republican side, which leads to the most interesting result of the chatter rankings this month. Ignore the status changes this month - those are deceiving - look instead at the absolute numbers. Last month, there were 13 GOP and 14 Dems over 600 chatter; this month there are 8 and 12, respectively. Likewise, 10 GOP and 11 Dems scored over 1,000 last month, this month there are 6 and 10. So Democrat numbers are down slightly, and GOP numbers are down sharply.
Why aren't the parties following the same trajectory? Is this an example of media bias? Plenty of Republicans have declared candidacy, or mulled it openly; there's no particular reason Democrat Tom Vilsack should have almost five times as many hits as Republicans Mike Huckabee or Duncan Hunter.
There is media bias at work here, but it's not - directly - bias against conservatives. Rather, it's the bias of covering and mentioning candidates with high name recognition. The Democrats do better in a period of "discretionary coverage" because they have better-established candidates. There's also feedback in this system: the media favors attractive left-of-center candidates, so they get better name recognition, so they're favored by the media, etc. This works as much (actually more) within the Republican camp as between the parties. After all, the papers have to think about both primaries, and they can't get Al Gore or Chris Dodd to run in the GOP. But they can lavish attention on McCain, Giuliani, Pataki and others who make for softer sound bites.
Obviously, there's a lot more going on in the rankings in general, and in any particular month, than a marginal phenomenon like media bias can account for, but clearly the choices of editors are writers are an influential part of what we observe as media chatter.
The monthly prediction...
Jan '07: Clinton & Obama over McCain & Giuliani
Dec '06: Clinton & Obama over McCain & Giuliani
Nov '06: McCain & Giuliani over Clinton & Warner
Oct '06: McCain & Giuliani over Clinton & Warner
Sep '06: McCain & Giuliani over Clinton & Warner
Aug '06: McCain & Giuliani over Clinton & Warner
Jul '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
Jun '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
May '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
Apr '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
Mar '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Rice
Feb '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Rice
|R.1||Sen. John McCain||6,718||0|
|R.2||Gov. Mitt Romney||3,645||0|
|R.3||Secy. Condoleezza Rice||3,141||+3|
|R.5||Sen. Chuck Hagel||1,394||+6|
|R.6||Sen. Sam Brownback||1,321||-1|
|R.7||Sen. George Allen||792||+5|
|R.8||Gov. George Pataki||756||+2|
|R.10 (tie)||Gov. Mike Huckabee||406||-3|
|R.10 (tie)||Rep. Duncan Hunter||406||-2|
|R.12||Rep. Tom Tancredo||390||+3* (new)|
|R.14||Sen. Bill Frist||290||-10|
|R.15||Gov. Jeb Bush||173||-1|
|D.1||Sen. Hillary Clinton||6,047||0|
|D.2||Sen. Barack Obama||5,818||0|
|D.3||Sen. John Kerry||4,440||0|
|D.4||Sen. John Edwards||3,915||0|
|D.5||Sen. Joseph Biden||3,311||+2|
|D.6||Sen. Harry Reid||2,737||0|
|D.7||Sen. Christopher Dodd||2,171||+3|
|D.8||Gov. Tom Vilsack||1,970||-3|
|D.9||Gov. Bill Richardson||1,759||0|
|D.12||Sen. Evan Bayh||731||-4|
|D.14||Sen. Russ Feingold||312||-1|
|D.15||Gov. Mark Warner||310||-1|
Notes: The Chatter Rankings are created by searching each candidate's name plus "2008" in the Google News database. This month tested but not qualifying are Ron Paul and Al Sharpton.
See new graphs of the Chatter Rankings plus Chatter Rankings from December 2006, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, December 2005, August, July, June, and May.