Nov 20, 2019

Biden Tops Earned Media Share among Iowa Democrats, but at a Declining Rate

Author: Deep Root Analytics

When the top Democratic hopefuls walk on stage for the 5th presidential debate this week, Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa tuning in will be 75 days away from kicking off the first major presidential contest.

As more political attention focuses on the Hawkeye State, we thought it would be informative to measure how the respective candidates are generating earned media in Iowa, as they each vie for the “Big Mo” mantle come the first Monday in February next year.

Deep Root is an audience-powered analytics company that does four things: identifies an organization’s ideal audiences, analyzes how they consume media for optimal advertising, integrates them into platforms for linear, addressable and digital ad delivery, and measures how those audiences are being impacted by paid and earned media.

Our Deep Root Platform includes Earned Media Audience Measurement, a robust tool that matches mentions of certain topics on TV to our in-house audience-specific ratings data derived from cable set-top boxes and smart TVs. While traditional media monitoring only tallies candidate mentions, we believe it’s important to measure the reach of news stories among key voter audiences, as that informs downstream changes on measures like name ID, favorability or ballot strength.

Looking at earned media activity consumed by Iowa Democratic voters from October 1 – 31 in the top six local markets in Iowa, here’s what we found:

  • Earned media candidate mentions on national cable accounted for 43% of target impressions consumed by Iowa Democrats. Where and how much earned media is consumed by Iowa Democrats should be a consideration for post-debate spin. Broadcast TV stories delivered 57% of earned media target impressions, of note broadcast news airing in Des Moines had an outsized impact on the number of impressions reaching Iowa Democrats. When considering national cable, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines had a similar number of raw target impressions (~5MM), and Davenport is the only market that has a majority of Democratic voter impressions attributed to cable news.
DMA DEM Voter Imp. Broadcast Cable
Des Moines-Ames IA 13,772,670 63% 37%
Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City & Dubuque IA 10,959,950 55% 45%
Davenport IA 4,485,820 44% 56%
Sioux City IA 1,390,971 51% 49%
Omaha NE 915,893 53% 47%
Rochester MN-Mason City IA 625,066 58% 42%
TOTAL 32,150,370 57% 43%
  • Joe Biden generated the most target impressions overall among Iowa Democrats, but Biden’s earned media market share declined in late October. Overall, Democratic voters tallied 14.6 million target impressions due to mentions of Joe Biden, 45 percent of all target impressions and more than 2.5 times greater than Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Yet in the first half of October, earned media mentions of Joe Biden accounted for between 50 to 56 percent market share of Democratic voter target impressions. The former Vice President closed the second half of October with between 36 to 41 percent market share, with the lowest measurement attributed to the Des Moines local market. It’s not surprising that this timeline coincides with Joe Biden trailing in Iowa polling, according to the Real Clear Politics average.
Candidate # of Mentions # of Stations DEM Voter Imp.
Joe Biden 57,096 42 14.6M
Bernie Sanders 22,236 40 5.4M
Elizabeth Warren 32,019 42 5.4M
Pete Buttigieg 7,362 34 2.1M
Kamala Harris 5,122 35 1.6M
Amy Klobuchar 3,319 31 1.1M
Cory Booker 2,563 37 0.8M
Beto O’Rourke 2,815 35 0.7M
Andrew Yang 1,448 29 0.5M
    Yet in the first half of October, earned media mentions of Joe Biden accounted for between 50 to 56 percent market share of Democratic voter target impressions. The former Vice President closed the second half of October with between 36 to 41 percent market share, with the lowest measurement attributed to the Des Moines local market. It’s not surprising that this timeline coincides with Joe Biden trailing in Iowa polling, according to the Real Clear Politics average.
  • Earned media impressions of Pete Buttigieg reaching Iowa Democrats doubled in the second half of October, an early indicator of his strengthening ballot support. This week’s MSNBC debate will be a fresh test for the new Iowa frontrunner. A recent Des Moines Register survey found that Pete Buttigieg is now the top choice for president among likely Iowa caucus-goers. Buttigieg’s rise in support in Iowa was evident in October as his earned media total doubled from 700,000 impressions reaching Iowa Democrats (October 1-14) to 1.4MM (October 15 – 31). Measuring the reach of earned media stories against key audiences provides strategic insight into the shifting political media landscape and the news events impacting voter opinions.
  • Despite having 9,800 fewer candidate mentions than Elizabeth Warren, earned media stories covering Bernie Sanders delivered the same number of target impressions among Iowa Democrats as Sanders’ progressive counterpart. Looking solely at the number of candidate mentions, it’s plausible to think Elizabeth Warren commanded a significant earned media share advantage over Bernie Sanders (32,019 to 22,236) in October. Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren hover at 5.4MM total target impressions, so the disparity in mentions does not carry over to the number of target impressions delivered to Iowa Democrats. Moreover, earned media stories mentioning Bernie Sanders were 6% more likely than Elizabeth Warren stories to be viewed by Iowa Democratic voters. A contributing factor here is that Elizabeth Warren had a higher share of target impressions on Fox News Channel compared to Bernie Sanders (13 to 9 percent).