Poll: Media's Love Affair with Obama

News Story: August 7, 2008

A new Sacred Heart University national poll found 64.9% of Americans say the purported national media “love affair” with U.S. Senator Barack Obama is very (30.5%) or somewhat real (34.4%). Another 26.5% suggested the love affair was somewhat unreal (8.5%) or not at all real (18.0%). Others, 8.6%, were unsure.

Majorities of both Republican and Democratic voters surveyed agreed the national media love affair is real – 78.3% and 58.5% respectively.

“It should come as no surprise that a large majority of Americans perceive Senator Obama as receiving more favorable media treatment compared to Senator McCain. Obama is a fresh, young and charismatic political figure. Any politician who is routinely compared to John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, as Obama has been, will surely cultivate support among journalists. This will change, however, once the nominating conventions are over and the general election campaign begins. The euphoria will subside and we are likely to see more balanced coverage,” stated Dr. Gary Rose, professor and chair of Sacred Heart University’s Department of Government and Politics.

More than two-thirds of Americans included in the poll, 67.9%, believed U.S. Senator Barack Obama is receiving the most favorable media coverage to date in the campaign. Just 11.1% indicated U.S. Senator John McCain was receiving the most favorable media coverage. Some, 14.8%, indicated they saw the media coverage as equal while 6.3% were unsure.

“When just 6.3% of those surveyed were unsure about the balance of media coverage for the candidates, it’s a good indication it is obvious to Americans – but maybe not to the national media,” said Jerry C. Lindsley, director of the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute.

Majorities of both Republican and Democratic voters surveyed suggested Senator Barack Obama is receiving the most favorable national media coverage – 80.3% and 63.1% respectively.

In a three-way U.S. Presidential candidate line up, “none of the above” fares well on a November ballot question. Eight hundred survey respondents were given the choice of U.S. Senator Barack Obama, U.S. Senator John McCain and “none of the above” for president this November. Senator Barack Obama led with 37.8% followed by Senator John McCain at 27.0% and “none of the above” at 22.3%. Another 13.0% were unsure.

Republican voters were more likely to say “none of the above” (19.2%) than Democratic voters (14.2%). And, conservatives were significantly more likely to say “none of the above” (23.0%) than liberals (17.1%).

Lindsley said, “More than two-fifths, 44.8%, told our researchers that they would be very or somewhat likely to support a strong third-party candidate if one emerged. This has to be unsettling to both candidates.”

“With respect to the poll concerning support for third parties, it is not at all unusual to find a substantial portion of the electorate indicating displeasure with the nominees of the two major parties, and a willingness to vote for a third-party candidate. This is a fairly typical finding. However, when given the opportunity to actually vote for a third-party candidate, the vast majority of these disenchanted respondents will balk at the opportunity and cast their vote for either the Democratic or Republican candidate. A good number of those persons polled who supported ‘none of the above’ will also vote for one of the two major party candidates. The United States has been a two party system since the beginning of the republic, and this will not change any time soon,” stated Dr. Rose.