For background, I’ll refer you to…:
The Huckabee Corollary the McCain Corolloary To Berg’s Eleventh Law: The Republican that the media covers most intensively before the nomination for any office will be the one that the liberals know they have the best chance of beating after the nomination, and/or will most cripple the GOP if nominated.
If you’re like me, you looked at the polls “showing” Donald Trump “leading” the GOP field and thought “Huckabee Corollary!”.
Nate Silver – fresh from playing a role in engineering the DFL’s “Bandwagon Effect” in the Minnesota gubernatorial election last year – notices the media blitz on Trump without, I suspect, getting the “Why“:
One of the few pieces of statistical evidence that we can look toward at this early stage of the presidential campaign is the number of media hits that each candidate is receiving. Apart from being interesting unto itself, it’s plausible that this metric has some predictive power. At this point in 2007, Barack Obama and John McCain were receiving the most coverage among the Democratic and Republican candidates respectively, and both won their races despite initially lagging in the polls.
In contrast to four years ago, however, when the relative amount of media coverage was fairly steady throughout the campaign, there have already been some dramatic shifts this year. Sarah Palin’s potential candidacy, for instance, is only receiving about one-fifth as much attention as it did several months ago.
In the past, I’ve usually used Google News to study these questions, but I’ve identified another resource — NewsLibrary.com — that provides more flexibility in search options and more robustness in its coverage. (One problem with counting things on Google is that the number of hits can vary fairly dramatically from day to day, for reasons I don’t entirely understand.)
(Another downside to Google News: it seriously overweights the left).
I’ve counted the number of times on NewsLibrary.com in which the candidate’s name appeared in the lead paragraph of the article, and a select combination of words appeared down in the article body. In particular, I’ve looked for instances in which any combination of the words “president”, “presidential” or “presidency” appeared, as well as any of the words “candidate”, “candidacy”, “campaign”, “nomination” or “primary.”
The idea is to identify cases in which a candidate was the main focus of the article (as opposed to being mentioned in passing) and when the article was about the presidential campaign itself (as opposed to, say, Mr. Trump’s reality show). The technique isn’t perfect — there are always going to be a few “false positives” from out-of-context hits — but it ought to be a reasonably good benchmark for the amount of press attention that each candidate is getting.
And the results?
So far this month, however, Ms. Palin has accounted for just 124 hits out of 1,090 total, or roughly 11 percent. Instead, her place has been taken by Mr. Trump, who has accounted for about 40 percent of the coverage.
The decline in media coverage for Ms. Palin tracks with a decline in her polling numbers. Whereas she was pulling between 15 and 20 percent of the Republican primary vote in polls conducted several months ago, she’s down to about 10 percent in most surveys now. ¶Mr. Trump, meanwhile, whose media coverage has increased exponentially, has surged in the polls, and is essentially in a three-way tie for the lead with Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee over an average of recent surveys.
Hm. What do you suppose the odds were that the mainstream media would pump the hell out of a buffoonish cartoon like Trump at the expense of the serious GOP candidates?
After the MN Gubernatorial election we noted that the “Bandwagon Effect” is known to have an effect on election turnout, shown in academic studies on the subject. As studied, it’s a negative effect – people are less likely to turn out for candidates that the media says are getting drubbed in the polls (like the Humphrey Institute’s polling last fall, which showed Emmer near-tie race as a 12 point loss with all-too-convenient timing.
So why would the media not be building up Trump as a “force to be reckoned with”? It’s a win/win for the Media and the Democrats (pardon the redundancy); as long as Trump is pictured as a contender, GOP candidates have to waste time and money fighting the strawman with the bad combover. And if by some freak of fate he gets the nomination (he won’t, because he’s no conservative, but let’s run with it) the media will tear him down promptly, because – let’s be honest – that’s what he’s there for.
This blog will be watching the libs/media and their bandwagonning over the next year and a half. It’ll be a growth industry.