Ron Paul loyalists have been vindicated. After months of observations that the mainstream media was ignoring the libertarian standard-bearer, a new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism shows just that: the Texas Congressman, who has consistently polled in the high single digits -- Real Clear Politics's aggregate poll currently has him at 8 percent -- has received the least overall coverage of any candidate. From May 2 to October 9, Paul appeared as the "primary newsmaker in only 2% of all election stories."
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The study measured mainstream exposure by compiling a list of 52 mainstream news outlets across "newspapers, cable news, broadcast television, the 12 most popular news websites in the country, and radio news." To register as a story about the candidate, he/she had to be the focus of at least 50 percent of the story. Interestingly, while Paul gained short shrift from the mainstream press, the blogosphere was an entirely different story, where the tone of his coverage was more favorable than for any other candidate:
Paul generated a good deal of attention on blogs, registering as the fifth most-discussed candidate with more than 89,000 opinions tracked about him.
Moreover, he and his candidacy fared better than any other candidate in the tone of that conversation. In all, 48% of the blogging conversation about Paul was positive compared with only 15% negative and 38% neutral. The next highest positive rating for any Republican was 34%, for Romney, and the next lowest negative rating was 24%, for Cain.
While complaints about a lack of media coverage are typical coming from any struggling candidate, Paul boosters, and even some independent observers, have argued that Paul's media blackout is particularly striking considering his concrete successes on the campaign trail. By our count those successes include:
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- Winning the Los Angeles Country Straw Poll last week, with more votes than Mitt Romney and Herman Cain combined.
- On October 8, winning the Values Voter straw poll in Washington, D.C.
- Raising $8.3 million in the third quarter, putting his fundraising clout way ahead of other second-tier candidates such as Herman Cain, who raised $2.8 million in the quarter, Michele Bachmann, who raised $4.1 million, and Rick Santorum, who raised less than $1 million.
- Winning the California Republican Party straw poll in September.
- Taking a close second in the Ames straw poll in Iowa in August behind Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
As The Washington Post notes. "Paul’s support has been stable at 10 percent or 11 percent of Republican and GOP-leaning independents in the three most recent Washington Post-ABC News polls." The question is, why is that not a story for the political media?