The observation that the head highest above the trench draws the most fire appears to be playing out in the Republican presidential contest.
According to the first installment of a Project for Excellence in Journalism campaign news analysis, after winning in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney has drawn more negative news coverage as he enters Saturday's (Jan. 21) primary in South Carolina that at any other time in the race.
That coverage has been driven by Romney's career at investment firm Bain Capital. Romney's negative coverage percentage was at 41% for the week of Jan. 9-15 compared to a 30% positive number. That positive was actually up from 25% the week before, but the spread increased because the negative number was up 16 percentage points from the 26% figure the week before.
The most positive coverage went to Ron Paul, with a 45% positive vs. 12% negative spread.
Newt Gingrich coverage is becoming more neutral, although negative (27%) still outweighs the positive (20%), while Perry gets the unwanted prize for largest spread between negative and positive among the Republican candidates, with 37% of the coverage negative to only 19% positive.
Rick Santorum apparently got little bump from almost winning Iowa. His coverage was actually more negative afterwards (head above the trench?) and after his fifth-place finish in Iowa, coverage, good or bad, "plummeted," said PEJ.
Romney has also risen in the ranks of online coverage. He is now the most-searched-for candidate on Google and has topped Ron Paul as the candidate whose YouTube channel got the most viewers. He also retained his standing atop the candidate with the most mentions on Google News.