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It stands to reason that the percentage of media coverage each candidate has received—also known as their share of voice—should predict the outcomes of state primaries and caucuses. Newspapers, radio stations, news websites and TV networks all cater to their local audiences. They cover the news that matters to their readers and viewers.
But if that were true, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would have their nominations in the bag.
While the theory that media coverage reflects how the candidates will do in the polls holds water in some cases this election season, it’s been anything but predictive. According to Super Tuesday media analysis from LexisNexis Newsdesk, Clinton and Trump’s rivals surged ahead in the primaries, despite securing significantly less media coverage over a 24-hour period.
Colorado: Bernie Sanders won in Colorado despite trailing Clinton’s share of voice by approximately seven percent. (19.90% to 26.25%)
Minnesota: The Super Tuesday surprise was Marco Rubio, whose first primary win—in Minnesota—was the latest in a series of Election 2016 wild cards. Media coverage couldn’t have predicted a win for Rubio in that state, considering his share of voice was fourth among all candidates (just 14% total share of voice). Sanders’s 15.96% share of voice in the Land of 10,000 Lakes similarly trailed Clinton’s 22.43% share of voice.
Texas: Ted Cruz won in his home state of Texas, proving that everyone likes a hometown hero, even though he had almost half as much media coverage as Trump. (Cruz has 18.08% share of voice compared to Trump’s 31.87%.)
Vermont: Sanders also won in his home state, despite the fact that he racked up fewer column inches and less airtime than Clinton at 21.50% percent to 24.74% share of voice, respectively.
One thing is clear about this election: there is no predicting what will happen next. What’s your take on the intersection of media coverage and primary results?