December 8, 2011

The Palin Plunge

% of Campaign Stories
May 12.1
June 11.8
July 2.6
Aug 4.6
Sep 3.2
Oct 1.4
Nov 1 Dec 4 0.8

95% – Drop in news coverage of Sarah Palin from May to December 2011

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who has repeatedly proven her ability to generate media attention over the past few years, has virtually disappeared from the headlines since her October 5 announcement that she would not seek the presidency in 2012.

In the early stages of the 2012 campaign—from May through early October—Palin ranked No. 4 in the competition for news coverage among the Republican presidential hopefuls even though she had not entered the race and many observers largely discounted the possibility. In that period, only Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry were the subject of more news coverage.

A good chunk of that campaign-related coverage came in May and June, when Palin was the No. 2 and No. 3 Republican newsmaker respectively, registering as a dominant figure in 12% of the campaign stories in each month. (To be a dominant newsmaker, someone must be featured in at least 50% of a story.

Her coverage dropped in July (a dominant newsmaker in 3% of the stories), August (5%), and September (3%), but she was still capable of generating headlines, most particularly when she would hint about running for the White House.  But in the two months since Palin announced she would not seek the presidency, coverage of her has almost vanished. In both October and November, she was a dominant newsmaker in only 1% of the campaign stories.

Ever since John McCain selected Palin as his surprise running mate in August 2008, the former Alaska governor has been a familiar figure in the media, a seemingly irresistible story for political journalists and commentators. In both 2008 and 2009, she finished as the fifth-leading newsmaker. And she registered as the No. 2 newsmaker, behind President Obama, in 2010, when she confirmed that she was considering a run for president in 2012.