Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin figured in only 8% of campaign stories on major media outlets for the week ending Oct. 19, her lowest percentage since being named to the ticket in late August, and both she and Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden were a "lead newsmaker" [figuring in more than 50% of a story] in fewer stories than Joe the Plumber.
In fact, Joe figured in 8% of campaign stories that week, tied with Palin and far surpassing Biden at 3%.
That is according to the latest Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) analysis of news coverage.
Joe the Plumber (Joe Wurzelbacher) was on a rope line asking Barack Obama about his tax policy, a clip that the McCain camp latched on to when Wurzelbacher later said he thought Obama's answer about distributing wealth sounded socialist. Joe the Plumber was referred to by both candidates a total of a couple dozen times during the final presidential debate, his house was staked out, and he quickly became the newest entry in the cultural literacy lexicon.
"How long he will remain a 'shooting star,' as an ABC news report put it, is open to question," said the PEJ report, adding that "the McCain team has continued to make him a talking point on the campaign trail."
In fact, in a speech Tuesday morning in Pennsylvania, it only took Senator McCain six sentences of a prepared speech text before his first reference to Joe.
The PEJ analysis also revealed that the financial crisis, which was the top news story for several weeks, has been overtaken again by the campaign, which claimed 51% of the news hole the week of Oct. 19, up 10 percentage points from the week before when the economic crisis was top of mind.
The campaign was the most dominant on cable, where 80% of the news surveyed was about the presidential race.