Not only did conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz win the Iowa caucuses last Monday, but his victory was a surprise: most polls leading up to the event had shown billionaire businessman Donald Trump out in front. In the past, such surprise victories have been followed by a burst of positive news media attention — the famous “Iowa bump” that presidential candidates covet as a way to turbo-charge their campaigns. Think John Kerry in 2004, or Barack Obama in 2008.
But a Media Research Center study of ABC, CBS and NBC evening news coverage finds that Ted Cruz has actually received what might be called a negative bump in the week since Iowa, garnering fewer minutes of total TV news airtime (16 minutes, vs. 21 minutes before the caucuses) and a significantly smaller share of GOP campaign coverage than he had in the week leading up to the caucuses (17.8 percent, vs. 24.8 percent earlier).
Not only did Cruz take a back seat to Iowa runners-up Marco Rubio and Donald Trump in overall coverage, much of the attention the Texas Senator did receive was negative. Roughly half (49 percent) of Cruz’s airtime was devoted to allegations his team perpetrated a “dirty trick” on competitor Ben Carson on caucus night by circulating news reports that Carson would not go directly to the next contest, New Hampshire, after the Iowa vote.
The post-Iowa period marks the first time in seven months that Trump has not overshadowed his GOP competitors in total airtime. Today’s New Hampshire primary will help determine whether or not that is a new trend in Campaign ’16 news coverage.
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