Is all publicity good publicity? We analyzed this question using our Penta Live media monitoring platform and polling averages for the two leading Republican presidential candidates: Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis. The answer, in this case, depends on the candidate.
What we’re seeing:
There’s no such thing as bad publicity for Donald Trump. Despite much of the former President’s coverage being the result of scandal, including four indictments, Trump’s popularity remains high, hovering around 52%. In fact, polling and our media data support the claim that his first indictment reignited support for his campaign by once again boosting his profile in the national media.
The reverse is true, however, for his main rival. Although DeSantis has recently received more national media attention, his poll numbers have fallen considerably. Furthermore, the Florida Governor has had trouble separating himself from Trump in the media: 65% of DeSantis coverage mentions Trump, while only 20% of Trump coverage mentions DeSantis.
What it means:
In zero-sum polling, if one candidate is up, another is down; as Trump regains his media profile and his popularity, DeSantis’s poll numbers have slipped despite his own media boost. If DeSantis is to beat Trump in the Republican primaries, he will need to escape Trump’s shadow by creating a media persona and news cycles that focus solely on his candidacy.
Four indictments do not a juggernaut make. Although there seems to be no floor for DeSantis, as his poll numbers continue to fall, there may be a ceiling for Trump. It turns out indictments may have diminishing returns–if one indictment didn’t endear you, three more are unlikely to do the trick. If Trump wants to continue his climb in the polls, he’ll need to give reporters a different reason to talk about his candidacy.
How we did it: