While education ranked as the top issue among voters surveyed in a recent CBS News poll, the Dole campaign and the media concentrated most of their attention on taxes, ranked as the second-most important issue in the CBS poll.
Other polls have ranked taxes as being of significantly lesser importance with voters. In August, for example, SPINdex analyzed national media coverage of the major campaign issues going into the Democratic National Convention as identified by a then current Gallup Poll, with taxes ranking last among 12 issues.
Education ranked sixth in overall impressions generated by the SPINdex sample of influential media outlets during the one-year period leading up to this election special edition.
That probably explains the Clinton-Gore team's momentum with voters going into the election. Bill Clinton simply spoke more directly to the issues that mattered most with voters, generating roughly twice Bob Dole's SPINdex score on education.
Clinton's stand on education attracted 1,914 stories, totaling 1.3 million words of copy and 228 minutes of network news time. Dole's position on education garnered only 1,024 stories, 583,767 words of copy and 163 minutes of network airtime.
Clinton also dominated coverage on most of the issues emphasized by the media, beating Dole slightly on taxes and dominating by a roughly 2-1 ratio on the issues of jobs, welfare, Social Security/Medi-care and drugs.
Among the nine issues that mattered most among voters in the CBS News poll, Dole performed best against the bottom four and won only one: crime.
The disparity between voter sentiment and the media is even more pronounced when analyzing coverage specifically referencing each campaign's advertising strategy.
Both campaigns generated their highest SPINdexes for ads dealing with taxes-622 stories and 282,230 words of copy for Dole and 289 stories and 144,843 words of copy for Clinton-but scored comparatively few impressions for ads addressing education. Education ranked eighth as an advertising campaign issue for Dole and seventh for Clinton.
Ranking second among all ad campaign issues for both candidates was drugs. Clinton again dominated in this area, but most of the references to Clinton stemmed from Dole's advertising, which included TV spots and a heavy publicity effort featuring Clinton's comments on marijuana use.
While this edition of SPINdex did not analyze positive and negative values of the media impressions, SPINdex as a rule considers all media impressions to be leveraged as long as the subject is spelled right. And in this case, SPINdex spells it: R-E-E-L-E-C-T-E-D.
Mr. Mandese is senior VP of Myers Reports. Mr. Weiner is VP of Medialink Research.