That would be Barack Obama. Although, amazingly, McCain, who lost by nearly 200 electoral votes, actually ran up better coverage at Fox News as compared to the landslide winner. That's the conclusion from a TV news study re: campaign coverage, released this week by Center for Media and Public Affairs.
We're sure conservatives will use the study advance their claim that the media were in the tank for Obama. But honestly, the idea that McCain, who even some prominent Republicans conceded ran an awful campaign, would benefit from lots of "positive" coverage down the stretch seems absurd. CMPA wasn't doing studies back then, but does anybody think Jimmy Carter got great press during the run-up to his blow-out loss in 1980?
Add in the fact that so much of today's so-called campaign coverage is really just race-horse chatter that revolves around which team is up and which team is down, of course the candidate that was waaaaay up got better press.
The CMPA report announced:
On the network newscasts, the Democratic ticket received 91% positive comments about their standing and prospects in the horse race, compared to only 31% positive comments about the Republicans - a margin of 60 percentage points.
Can it get any more obvious? The candidate with the better standing in the polls got more "positive" coverage regarding "prospects in the horse race."
That's why studies like this remain so suspect, especially when analyzing a campaign that was as lopsided as Obama-McCain.