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Was the US election decided in October?

October 19th, 2016 - Posted by Rebecca Gillingham in Information Trends, Media Monitoring

The US general election takes place on November 8th 2016.  However, it may be that the election is most remembered for one weekend exactly a month earlier. On the day of the third and final Presidential debate we look at the LexisNexis U.S. Presidential tracker for insights.

During 8-9th October, Donald Trump's campaign for the White House suffered its most severe dent to date, with the release of audio tapes from 2006 which captured the Republican candidate making lewd and derogatory comments about women.  In politics timing is everything and so when the second presidential debate took place on October 9th, one subjected dominated proceedings.

Media Coverage

Media coverage peaked on October 10th, reaching a level not seen since late-September following the conclusion of the first debate, with the two candidates collectively amassing almost 50,000 media articles in one single day, according to the LexisNexis U.S. Presidential campaign tracker.

Share of Voice

Hillary Clinton may not be completely disappointed with the news that 56% of share of voice over the past month has gone to her opponent – particularly when so much of this was negative media profile for Trump.  Clinton may be content to lose the overall share of media voice if it helps her win the one race that matters most.

Key States

In the nine closest state races, Clinton is ahead in seven.  A single win in certain key states would likely propel Clinton into the White House, whereas Trump would need to win at least seven of the closest nine states to have a realistic chance of winning the election.  Never one to shy away from a challenge, Trump has since been in a combative mood, although his claims that the election is rigged against him may suggest a growing acceptance of defeat.

Election Issues

In a contest that has been dominated by personal attacks over policy issues, it is perhaps unsurprising that week-by-week the key election issues have changed.  In late September and early October media profile was dominated by just two issues: taxes and terrorism.  In the last two weeks the focus has fragmented to cover several issues including abortion, healthcare, education, immigration and energy policy. It is unlikely that policy will overtake personality in the last month of campaigning but if it does, it will likely be in the aftermath of the final presidential debate on October 19th, when another burst of headlines are likely to dominate the press.

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