In my last post, I analyzed the impact of traditional and social media on the Republican primary contest. Here, I’ll look at the issues that have had the most media traction since May 29, when Mitt Romney gained enough delegates to claim the Republican presidential nomination.
The dominant issue since late May has been jobs and employment. A key driver of coverage was the Department of Labor’s monthly jobs report, released on June 1. The release resulted in a large spike in coverage, as both President Obama and Romney commented on the report, and it’s likely that subsequent reports will draw significant pick-up during the rest of the campaign. A second spike in jobs coverage occurred during mid- June when both candidates visited the battleground state of Ohio to promote their visions for creating new jobs.
At the other end of the spectrum is the relatively light volume of coverage since late May for issues such as immigration, taxes and health care, which played central roles in recent presidential and congressional campaigns. The low volume of health care coverage has been particularly surprising, since the Affordable Care Act has been a much debated component of Obama’s legislative initiatives, and Romney’s health care program was a centerpiece of his term as governor of Massachusetts. It’s worth noting, however, that this issue will likely gain significant traction after the Supreme Court rules on key components of the Affordable Care Act this summer.
Social media results have generally mirrored traditional media for coverage of jobs, taxes and health care. This indicates that the candidates’ campaigns or the government’s scheduled economic reports are driving the discussions and setting the agenda for traditional media coverage and conversations in social media.