12 August 2008

Obama Overexposed

Could it be true? Is America really getting sick and tired of Barack Obama? According to a study published by the Pew Research Center (available here), 48% of Americans say they have heard too much of Obama. That includes 34% of Democrats and 51% of independents. At the same time, many people (38%) are complaining that not enough has been seen in the media of John McCain. In fact, fewer people say they have seen the Republican candidate in the the right amount (35%) than they have Mr Obama (41%). Even in their own parties, Obama is considered to have the right amount of exposure by 57% by fellow Democrats, against a score of only 37% for John McCain among fellow Republicans.

One reason? Could it be the ridiculous overexposure of Obama in the mass media, at least up until very recently? The same report includes results of candidate exposure research, showing that in the first half of 2008, the media had an outright love affair with Obama (see graph).

The data show that currently, coverage of Obama is about 81%, of McCain about 78%, but between February and this past week, the average difference was roughly 22% in Obama's favor. In early May, Obama-favor in the media was even over 50%!

But it gets worse, at least from McCain's perspective. The report also includes data on how visible the candidate is to voters. McCain's visibility has not improved, hovering constantly between 8 and 11%. And Obama? His visibility has steadily climbed over the spring and summer, currently reaching 76%.

What does this mean? I don't rightly know, but it may mean that voters are realizing that Obama is overexposed. This may lead to a backlash among voters who are getting tired of seeing his face on tv (and repeatedly on the cover of Newsweek) all the time. What's more, Pew mentions that 22% of respondents in their survey reported they have an unfavorable view of Obama, up from only 16%. That may indeed mean the post-Berlin bounce for Obama. Let's hope.