FAIR A FAIR analysis of front-page election coverage in three major dailies revealed a strong emphasis on horserace politics at the expense of issue coverage. The study found a lopsided focus on Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, and an overwhelming focus on the presidential race at the expense of all other electoral contests.
The analysis examined all front-page election stories from the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today from August and September, sorting them into six different categories: issues, campaigns, candidates, process, voters and international.
Of the 217 total stories, 47 percent focused on the campaigns—pieces centered on who was “gaining ground” or “teetering,” who was “broadening their outreach” or altering their strategy—and, of course, who raised more money.
Another 12 percent of front-page election stories were focused on voters. Over half of these stories featured straightforward polling reports, while the others were more detailed looks at voter mood and logic.
Stories that directly focused on policy Issues facing the electorate, on the other hand, were only 12 percent of front-page election coverage. Of the 26 issue-oriented stories, five focused on terrorism, four on the economy, three each on immigration and Russia, and two on the Supreme Court. Syria, race, voter ID laws, guns, entitlements, poverty, trade, transparency and nuclear weapons each had one. Important issues like climate change, healthcare, education, drugs, policing, abortion and taxes were the subject of no front-page election stories during the study period.