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.


La said...

Part of the reason that Obama has so much more exposure is because McCain is okay with "tough politics", as he calls it. He is okay with smearing his opponent's character, even to the point of fear tactics; of stating that Obama is a terrorist. I don't know who I will vote for this year. I really don't, but I can say that my view of McCain has not improved in light of his willingness to falsely accuse and make ridiculous ties to Obama and "bad friends". I think, if you want to win, play fair. Don't lie and scheme and try to trick your way into the presidency. I just can't see voting for someone who tries to trick the American people. Why not just tell us your plans instead of constantly focusing on your opponent? I have been so disallusioned by the amount of christians who are okay with the way that McCain is treating Obama. I have been surprised by the hate talk I have heard from family members and friends. I understand not wanting to vote a certain party. I understand not wanting to vote for someone who is pro-choice. But I cannot understand calling a fellow American, one who has done much already to better our nation, a creep or an evil, evil man, or a liar, especially in the face of the smear campaign that McCain is running.

Michel van der Hoek said...

I agree that McCain is not running a fair campaign, though I think the media are exaggerating exactly how unfair the campaign is. Obama is actually spending more money on negative ads than McCain, though he has the luxury to balance it with some other ads because he's got more money than McCain.

McCain should never have raised the Bill Ayers thing because he doesn't have the evidence to prove that Obama and Ayers were really close. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest that Obama continued to associate a lot more closely with Ayers than he's willing to admit well after he knew who the man was, but McCain just can't convince me it's crucial. I disagree with you on the "bad friends" strategy on the whole, though. Obama has a long list of very nebulous friends and it's legitimate to raise this in a campaign. After all, we don't want Obama to pick that sort of people to be in his cabinet.

By the way, the statistics on media exposure predate almost all of the recent campaign ads and focus on the way news organizations have shown stories about the candidates.