Boston, August 17, 2012. Presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is facing strong criticism from Democrats, who have shifted the media agenda to focus on more than just his fiscal record, according to the latest findings from research institute Media Tenor International.
“Ryan has been working hard in his media appearances to focus on the economy and capitalize on reported voter dissatisfaction,” says Racheline Maltese, a researcher at Media Tenor. “However, with journalists preoccupied with the selection process that ultimately chose him over the other contenders, and Democrats strongly on the attack, other issues are also in play on the media agenda.”
Of these, the Medicare issue may be the most critical, Maltese says. “It may produce risk for the Romney campaign in Florida, which is a key state in the race for Electoral College delegates. It´s also likely to stay in the news as the agenda has been focusing on healthcare related issued throughout Obama´s term, and even more so recently, as reform legislation has started to take effect.”
Media Tenor compared the reception of Ryan in the media with Sarah Palin when she was selected as the VP nominee four years ago. “There are different factors in play,” Maltese notes. “Most people outside of Alaska hadn´t heard of Palin – she´d only been mentioned by TV news 13 times in the 8 months before her nomination. Ryan´s been a much more visible figure with nearly 20 times as much coverage. That said, this is still a fraction of the political reporting, and voters are still forming an assessment of him.”
The large shares of criticism Obama is offering on Ryan may not change how voters perceive him. “Obama is attacking Ryan on the economy – the issue which is viewed as strongest for Ryan. Those that support the Romney/Ryan view of the budget won´t be swayed by this criticism; rather, it will confirm their viewpoints on Obama´s economic policies, and help keep Ryan above the awareness threshold. This level of criticism may actually benefit the Romney campaign.” Additionally, Maltese notes that in The Wall Street Journal, 100% of criticism on Ryan is coming from Democrats. “This doesn´t impact voter opinions, so much as underscore party division.”
Where voters look for news, may impact their view, not just of the candidates, but of the election, Maltese says. “All the networks are more negative than positive on both Romney and Obama. Romney has an edge right now in polling and overall media sentiment, but the current tonality of TV news isn´t creating excitement for either candidate.”
Meanwhile, Media Tenor has noticed a significant improvement in TV tone on the economy as some encouraging numbers on the housing market were released. “TV is still sharply negative on the economy,” Maltese cautions. “It´s just a little less bad. Whether this is enough to improve CCI or affect voter sentiment, remains to be seen.”
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