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LexisNexis Data Shows Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in Dead Heat for Media Coverage in the Four Weeks Leading into Super Tuesday

Analysis via the Nexis service suggests a possible link between media coverage volume and primary outcome: Romney steady, Santorum gaining momentum, Gingrich in decline

March 1, 2012 — NEW YORK - LexisNexis® Legal & Professional (www.lexisnexis.com), a leading provider of content and technology solutions, today released national media coverage data for 2012 Republican presidential frontrunners Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. In the weeks leading up to critical Super Tuesday contests on March 6, key findings include:

  • Romney has a lead in overall media exposure among the top four GOP contenders and has claimed 33 percent of total coverage in the partial week from February 26 to February 29. However, Santorum is now a close second with 32 percent of coverage in the same timeframe.
  • Winners of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida primaries all experienced a spike in media coverage in the week prior to primary day; and data suggests Santorum’s media coverage is spiking heading into Super Tuesday.
  • Santorum’s volume of coverage has increased more dramatically than any of the four candidates and continues to build in the closing days.

LexisNexis also reviewed media coverage data for the four weeks leading into the Iowa caucuses and the primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. The data illustrates that the candidates who won the contests each had a spike in coverage in the week immediately prior to primary day. It also provided additional insights into patterns of candidate coverage during the longer nomination process.

"During this intriguing Republican presidential nomination race, media coverage patterns for primary winners lend potential clues to the eventual nominee," said Tom Ogburn, vice president and managing director of Business Insight Solutions at LexisNexis Legal & Professional. "LexisNexis has long been an authoritative source of information for media and political professionals, researchers and analysts. As the race continues to heat up, providing a bird’s eye view of the political landscape by distilling critical insights from candidate-related stories can be invaluable."

To conduct the research, a team at LexisNexis used the Nexis® service – winner of the 2012 CODiE Award in the digital content category of Best Political Information Resource – to collect and analyze the volume of media coverage for each of the four contending Republican nominees within each respective time increment.

Media sources included major newspapers, magazines and more than 5,500 relevant blogs, and Twitter feeds. The analysis of each set of data provides insight into the media’s interest in the candidates and suggests a possible link between volume of media coverage leading into contests and eventual primary winners.

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Coverage of Candidates in the Four Weeks Leading Into Super Tuesday
Findings based on volume of coverage for the four leading Republican contenders in national and state level media from February 1, 2012 to February 29, 2012 include:

  • Romney has earned the most media exposure with 10,810 mentions or 35 percent of total coverage of the leading four candidates. Santorum is garnering the second highest number of mentions with 8,590 or 28 percent of coverage. Meanwhile, Gingrich has 7,177 mentions and 23 percent of coverage; and Paul earned 4,652 and 15 percent of coverage over the same time period.

Media coverage data of the top candidates in the respective four week periods leading up to the 2012 GOP primaries in New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina and for the Iowa caucuses indicated that each of the eventual caucus/primary winners experienced a spike in national coverage in the week leading up to primary day. For example:

  • Prior to the New Hampshire and Florida primaries, Romney experienced a two percent spike in national coverage between two weeks before and one week before those elections. In New Hampshire, he rose from 30 percent to 32 percent and in Florida, 36 percent to 38 percent.
  • Similarly, Gingrich experienced a four percent spike in national coverage just before his South Carolina primary win (from 25 percent to 29 percent).
  • Santorum received a seven percent increase in media coverage just before he won the Iowa caucuses (seven percent to14 percent).

In the week immediately leading up to Super Tuesday, Santorum has exhibited a spike in national coverage – up two percent since February 19, 2012.

Combining the respective timeframes leading up to each of the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida primaries, and Super Tuesday, findings present a broader picture of overall media coverage of Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul. Within this extended 20 week period between December 4, 2011 and February 29, 2012 findings include:

  • Romney has the most overall coverage among the four contenders over the past 20 weeks, remaining steady with approximately over a third of all coverage (34 percent).
  • However, Santorum’s volume of coverage has increased more dramatically than any of the four candidates over the 20 week period (seven percent to 32 percent).
  • In contrast, coverage of Gingrich has fallen dramatically over this time (40 percent to 20 percent).
  • As the weeks progressed, each major dip in Gingrich’s coverage volume coincided with a major increase in Santorum’s coverage, and vice versa.
  • Additionally, Paul’s volume of coverage has shown a moderate decline (18 percent to 15 percent).

Methodology
LexisNexis conducted a search of U.S. media coverage for the four main candidates for the 2012 Presidential Republican nomination (Gingrich, Paul, Romney and Santorum) on the Nexis service database, which consists of more than 20,000 newspapers, magazines, journals, wires transcripts, blogs and Twitter feeds. The database includes media from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and full text of the top 99 U.S. newspapers, as well as abstracts of The Wall Street Journal.

Information about each candidate was searched using his full name, starting four full weeks from the start of the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida primaries. For the four-week period prior to Super Tuesday, March 6, 2012, data was captured for three full weeks from February 5 to February 25, and a partial week from February 26 to February 29 at 9 a.m. EST.

For the purposes of this analysis, full weeks are defined as Sunday through Saturday. Counts of media mentions by week were converted to percentage of coverage volume. Multiple mentions of a single candidate within a single article were counted as one.

About LexisNexis LexisNexis Legal & Professional (www.lexisnexis.com) is a leading global provider of content and technology solutions that enable professionals in legal, corporate, tax, government, academic and non-profit organizations to make informed decisions and achieve better business outcomes. As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. Today, LexisNexis Legal & Professional harnesses leading-edge technology and world-class content, to help professionals work in faster, easier and more effective ways. Through close collaboration with its customers, the company ensures organizations can leverage its solutions to reduce risk, improve productivity, increase profitability and grow their business. Part of Reed Elsevier, LexisNexis Legal & Professional serves customers in more than 100 countries with 10,000 employees worldwide.

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