July 27, 2000

A Question of Character

Evidence

One big difference in the coverage was the evidence.

Gore is saddled with a long public record. Bush is not. Or, at the very least, Bush's record requires more original reporting to dig out.

Nearly half of all the assertions about Gore (46%) were based on his public record, including his campaign fundraising. In contrast, only one in ten of the statements about Bush's character studied here (11%) was tied to his record.

The assertions about Bush were usually based on something softer, or at least more under his control. More than a third (34%) had to do with how he ran his campaign or the policy stances he had put forward as part of it.

Another quarter of the assertions about Bush (25%) cited no evidence. In contrast, only 15% of the Gore assertions were unsupported.

This suggests that Bush can still run as a persona of his own creation to a much greater extent than Gore.