Home – Media Monitoring: Was Iowa the Start of an Election Trend or Anomaly?

Media Monitoring: Was Iowa the Start of an Election Trend or Anomaly?

Posted on 02-04-2016 by Megan Burnside

Iowa isn’t in the media spotlight often, but when it is … watch out! On Monday, Iowans headed out to high school gymnasiums, private homes and other venues to participate in the first primary event of this long presidential election season. As media pundits and political junkies looked on, the State’s democratic and republican voters picked sides—sometimes by literally walking from one side of a room to the other—to help determine who will become each Party’s nominee for the next presidential election. The night and aftermath were not without surprises, including the stories about at least six democratic caucus precincts tossing coins to split the virtual tie between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton to award delegates. Also, there was what Ben Carson called a "dirty trick" by the Cruz campaign to win votes by perpetuating a rumor that Carson was out of the race. What else does media monitoring reveal? 

Pre-caucus Polling Results Flopped

Despite appearing ahead in the polls, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton fell short on Caucus night. Clinton squeaked by to capture a few more delegates than her rival, but ‘the Donald’ had no such luck, coming in second place to Ted Cruz. A look at share of voice—pre-, during and post-caucus night—shows that both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio received a boost in coverage in the days before Iowa caucuses and their performance boosted coverage further while Donald Trump saw his share of voice slip. 

Trump was gracious when addressing the media afterwards; however, his response on Twitter was, perhaps, more typical of the mogul’s personality. Unfortunately, it appears that Cruz won on the Twitter front as well when a well-aimed tweet at Trump sent the hashtag #Trumpertantrum trending. 

Only One Winner Emerged—Ted Cruz

A photo finish between Clinton and Sanders meant that Cruz was the only candidate to achieve a true victory. Interestingly, Rubio declared that his third-place finish was a “win,” prompting some jokes on Twitter. Certainly experts expected him to place third, given the polling numbers, but Rubio’s better than anticipated performance will likely gain more media coverage in the coming weeks.

The New York Post offered its own take on the results, suggesting that the high Republican turnout, coupled with the voting results, reflects that Trump “… may be generating actual negative turnout of the sort pollsters find difficult to measure.” The newspaper also noted that “In Iowa, among an all-white Republican electorate, 60 percent of the vote last night was cast for two Cubans and an African-American.” The insinuation is clear: If Donald Trump lost ground in Iowa, what will happen in more ethnically-diverse areas of the country? This could also explain Rubio’s elation at a third-place finish. 

Media Widens Its Focus, But Still Shows Favorites

Trump will have to get accustomed to sharing more of the spotlight with Cruz. He still receives the lion’s share of media attention, but Cruz appears to be chipping away at those numbers. Meanwhile, Clinton still seems to hold a slight edge, with the media pundits predicting greater success in future primaries. Much will depend on voter engagement; the Iowa results showed a clear split by age group among Democrats so if Sanders can roll out the vote with his key demographics, Clinton could face close contests in other states.  

Stay tuned as we track who has momentum—and who’s running out of gas—as the race to the White House continues. 

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Keep visiting the U.S. Presidential Campaign Tracker to follow changes in media coverage over time, candidates’ share of voice and more.
  2. Get a free trial of LexisNexis® Newsdesk to experience the power of media monitoring and analysis from one, convenient interface.   
  3. Share this blog on LinkedIn to keep the dialogue going with your colleagues and contacts. 

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