Hero image of Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren
9th August 2019
Ben Moore

The 2020 Democratic Primaries July Update

At Signal AI we’ve been tracking media coverage of the US Democratic Party presidential primaries, following our coverage in The Wall Street Journal we have updated the tracker for July.

To continue our political media monitoring and tracking of the US Democratic Party presidential primaries and our June update, here we track and analyse media coverage for the major democratic candidates in the month of July.

Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), we have tracked every time the candidates are referred to in the media throughout July. As the race is moving on, this month we are expanding our index. We’ve conducted a deep-dive into media coverage in Iowa, where the first of the Democratic caucuses and primaries will take place.

The race so far

1Joe Biden35,01339,50386,798222,381141,761250,201158,245933,902
2Bernie Sanders62,561102,206114,354152,93596,134165,180143,669837,039
3Elizabeth Warren72,76087,67972,65981,15369,239137,657123,858645,005
4Kamala Harris56,00365,80944,80350,00748,01090,66997,653452,954
5Cory Booker17,82458,60435,83535,36134,52274,25344,848301,247
6Beto O’Rourke14,53224,82163,70637,24024,37157,45736,055258,182
7Pete Buttigieg4,5426,26214,06254,39041,68566,06149,080236,082
8Bill de Blasio15,43323,49815,42218,69129,26149,04843,725195,078
9Amy Klobuchar12,14237,55228,55724,44723,07038,68027,130191,578
10Kirsten Gillibrand29,25832,83528,13320,14519,47931,70522,976184,531
11Julian Castro19,72710,26610,41811,0369,51435,39926,836123,196
12Jay Inslee9,9389,22521,53417,03119,18727,22014,410118,545
13Tulsi Gabbard16,96311,7818,2417,0016,38519,84512,81583,031
14John Hickenlooper3,6813,31019,1397,9887,86020,84718,79281,617
15Eric Swalwell2,7693,5944,60412,6338,72222,12716,12070,569
16John Delaney6,0134,0098,0746,1393,85020,88018,72267,687
17Tim Ryan3,8092,6942,66612,0964,95918,55015,37160,145
18Steve Bullock3,1182,8062,8352,97212,15212,05919,50855,450
19Michael Bennet3,5163,0093,1024,11610,65816,38510,80651,592
20Andrew Yang1,3491,8625,1068,0035,44316,97210,63549,370
21Marianne Williamson5531,5931,6513,0553,18416,70119,46046,197
22Seth Moulton1,1251,2521,5418,4606,1119,5556,88434,928
23Wayne Messam32581,1421,5041,5854,5281,56910,418
24Mike Gravel74664328151,1642,6521,4796,682


Democrat Total392,735534,294594,814799,599628,3061,204,631940,6465,095,025


Donald Trump1,796,9071,692,7771,512,9861,402,0071,779,7602,090,9011,910,00712,185,345


July saw less coverage on the primaries than June (around 75% of June’s total).



1Joe Biden158,245
2Bernie Sanders143,669
3Elizabeth Warren123,858
4Kamala Harris97,653
5 (+1)Pete Buttigieg49,080
6 (-1)Cory Booker44,848
7 (+1)Bill de Blasio43,725
8 (-1)Beto O’Rourke36,055
9Amy Klobuchar27,130
10Julian Castro26,836


We have tracked the coverage of the candidates in 45 Iowan news sources. We analysed the number of pieces each candidate is in, the number of unique references to each candidate, and the sentiment towards each candidate in every news piece they appear in.

For an explanation of our methodology in examining sentiment, and a list of the 45 outlets examined, see below.

Graph depicting coverage of the Democratic candidates in Iowa

Following the dramatic spike in coverage of Kamala Harris in June, we wanted to investigate her prominence in the media in Iowa. While she is a close fourth in the US as a whole, the data from Iowa suggests that until recently she has been lagging behind Biden, Sanders and Warren.

Additionally, Elizabeth Warren was in the lead alongside Sanders and Biden in Iowa. However, she hasn’t been able to sustain this. The articles that she has been appearing in mention her less often than other top candidates. (See below in the comparison of total mentions to total number of articles.)

The last two months have been seen Biden and Sanders jostling for the top spot. But in the wake of the July debates Sanders has over taken Biden.

This data is available upon request, simply email hello@signal-ai.com.

Graph depicting total mentions and articles


Graph depicting sentiment in Iowan news pieces

When analysing the sentiment of news coverage in Iowa, it suggests that Biden is the most divisive candidate. When compared to coverage of Sanders and Warren, a similar number of articles reflect on him positively. However, significantly more bear negative sentiment towards him.

In fact, almost 12% of articles towards Biden were negative. This is significantly more than the next candidate, Hickenlooper, with just over 7%.

Candidates with an exceptionally high portion of positive coverage include Bullock and Castro. Moulton and Tang were the only candidates with more negative coverage than positive.

Sentiment Methodology

Signal AI’s sentiment model assesses sentiment at the ‘entity’ level. This means it is able to detect sentiment for more than one organisation, person, or location in the same article. For this project, our AI has been trained to recognise the candidates as entities. For more information on what an entity is see here.

Our AI seeks to recognise words or phrases against a dictionary built by our researchers based on state-of-the-art linguistics research. Each word or phrase in the dictionary has a sentiment ‘intensity’ attached to it, on a scale of -1 to +1. The AI also negates double negative sentiment (for example, “not bad” is seen as a positive phrase) and overrides known colloquialisms (“that’s sick” becomes positive).

Sentiment from each individual word/phrase is combined to give the article an overall sentiment score for each entity based on its mentions, where:

  • 1 negative mention renders the whole article negative for that entity.
  • 1 positive and 0 negative mentions renders the whole article positive for that entity.
  • No positive or negative mentions renders the whole article neutral for that entity.

Iowan source list

  • ABC – 8 WQAD
  • Boone News-Republican
  • Britt News Tribune
  • Clarinda Herald-Journal
  • Daily Democrat
  • Daily Gate City
  • Daily Iowan
  • Daily Iowegian & Ad Express
  • Dallas County News
  • Denison Bulletin & Review
  • Des Moines Business Record
  • Des Moines Cityview
  • Des Moines Register
  • Explore SEiowa.com
  • Forest City Summit
  • Fort Dodge Messenger
  • Globe Gazette
  • Hamburg Reporter
  • Iowa City Press-Citizen
  • Iowa Economic Dev
  • Iowa Farm Bureau
  • Iowa Farmer Today
  • Iowa Hawkeye Sports
  • Iowa Senate Democratic Caucus
  • Iowa State Daily
  • Iowapublicradio.org
  • Kalona News
  • Muscatine Journal
  • NBC – 13 WHO
  • Nevada Journal
  • Osceola Sentinel-Tribune
  • Ottumwa Courier
  • Radio Iowa
  • Sioux City Journal
  • Siouxland Matters
  • Telegraph Herald
  • The Daily Nonpareil
  • The Des Moines Register
  • The Gazette
  • The Quad-City Times
  • The Tribune
  • Tri-County Times
  • Valley News Today
  • Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
  • WeAreIowa.co

Image Source: Cropped use of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People hosted by the Center for the American Progress Action Fund and the SEIU at the Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada (27 April 2019), by Gage Skidmore via flickr.com.

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