She is 14 points behind in the polls, but Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell is the second most covered political figure of the 2010 election season, according to a study released by the Pew Research Center.
During this election season, only President Barack Obama was covered more than O’Donnell, the Tea Party favorite who came from behind to defeat GOP lawmaker Mike Castle in the Republican primary. The study showed that a total of 160 stories covered O’Donnell. Old video clips in which she admitted having “dabbled in witchcraft,” renounced masturbation and questioned evolution quickly made her a favorite of national journalists. Chris Coons, her Democratic rival, did not crack the top 10.
The Pew Research Center used 50 different media outlets, including morning TV shows, online news sites and newspapers, to put together its list.
“To be a leading newsmaker, it’s not simply that you’re mentioned in the story, in essence you have to dominate it,” Mark Jurkowitz Associate Director of Pew Research Project for Excellence in Journalism, told The Daily Caller. “A newsmaker will be featured in at least 50 percent of the story.”
“The number you’re going to see for O’Donnell [and other listed candidates] are from subset of stories we deem are about midterm elections,” Jurkowitz added.
The list shows that journalists do not necessarily focus their election coverage on the tightest races. Several contests are much closer than the one in Delaware. According to the most recent Real Clear Politics average, there are currently seven senate race toss ups, and only two of these close races include candidates ranked in the Pew Research Center’s Top 10.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was ranked seventh most covered person during the election season, is running a “toss-up” race in Nevada against Sharron Angle, who ranked sixth on the Pew chart.
President Barack Obama tops the newsmaker list with 343 stories written up about him during the midterm elections.
Pew’s Top 10 features four Tea Party candidates. In addition to O’Donnell and Angle, the list also includes Kentucky Republican senate candidate Rand Paul and New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.