April 25th 2019
There are some people who seem concerned that Democratic 2020 nomination hopefuls are getting less attention, if female, than if male. Perhaps they worry that gender is the cause of putative inequality. The opportunity for all of us of course is that there might be statistics out there that help clarify and/or confirm the claim.
CivicFeed is built for just this kind of media understanding. Without going into the more important issues of Upper Midwest attention, we can just run some obvious analytics.
The 4 top male candidates in the media are clearly Joe Biden (JB), Bernie Sanders (BS), Pete Buttigieg (PB), and Beto O’Rourke (BO). Likewise, the top 4 female candidates are easy to discern: Kamala Harris (KH), Elizabeth Warren (EW), Amy Klobuchar (AK), and Kirsten Gillibrand (KG). (Apologies to Tulsi Gabbard.) The next four males, #5-#8, are possibly the four J’s, though the ranking is more dynamic as we move away from the top. Julian Castro (JC), Jay Inslee (JI), John Delaney (JD), and John Hickenlooper (JH) are #5-#8 here.
One convenient comparison is the most recent peak of each:
If this were a chess match, board 1 would go to the women (blue columns), KH over JB, and board 2 to the men (red columns), BS over KH. Then a tie on board 3, and BetoO over KirstenG on board 4. If we swapped BS ahead of JB, it is still 2-1-1, not a sweep. It’s fairly close, compared to the next four men. It is hard to make the case that men (in red), generally, get more media attention than women (in blue) after seeing the next chart:
The picture is reinforced when looking at the top media mention day for each candidate, year-to-date, in a combined chart (men in red and yellow; women in blue):
It may be that the women aren’t getting more attention than the men, or vice versa. Or it may just be that the women are candidates in the middle. Now, it is certainly worth pointing out that the top 4 candidates don’t seem to include the top 4 women.
At CivicFeed we can track mentions in local media (we have compared candidates for IA, MI, and WI, for example at insights.civicfeed.com), and we can compare benchmark publications. Yahoo News for example is a fairly neutral mainstream centrist publication. And it mentions most of the candidates well, so it is a good place to do meaningful comparison.
It may in fact be that Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke are media darlings and get more attention than one might expect. Perhaps for a few reasons unrelated to gender (e.g., youth). But it’s fairly clear by this benchmark there are four top media candidates, where two men get more than two women. Then two women (AK and KG) who don’t get the attention of two men (PG, BO), but those men don’t get the attention of the first two women. And the next four places go to men.
Adding to the nuance, it’s worth adding that JB and PB get their top mentions in DAILY MAIL (UK), while the other leaders, and JC, in THE HILL. Inslee — LAS VEGAS REVIEW JOURNAL. Delaney — IRISH TIMES. Hickenlooper — CBS DENVER.
It may of course be a tactic to suppress BS, or a tactic to raise KH, EW, AK, or KG. Sometimes the facts are not as important as the political maneuvers. Also, bare mentions are not the same things as softball stories or attack memes. In any case, there is some truth to the claim, but probably nothing that should be headlining the Democratic primary concerns at the moment.
It’s worth investing in media mention analytics that can actually cut through some of the noise out there, don’t you agree? No one wants to go around saying things, at least wording them in simple ways, that are easily disproved. Simple messages are good, but truth is also good.
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