California Sen. Kamala Harris’ addition to the Democratic ticket dominated the things Americans heard, read or saw about former Vice President Joe Biden in the days leading up to the Democratic convention. And she came close to unseating coronavirus as the top word mentioned about President Donald Trump.
These findings come from The Breakthrough, a project from CNN, SSRS and researchers from Georgetown University and the University of Michigan asking Americans what they have heard, read or seen about each of the presidential candidates lately. The survey was in the field beginning on the day Biden announced Harris’s selection and continued through Sunday night.
The pick appears to have boosted Biden’s profile generally. This week, around two-thirds of Americans had seen, read, or heard something about Biden, roughly even with the share who had heard something about Trump. In every week before this one, more people had heard something about Trump than Biden.
When asked about Biden, Americans were more than six times as likely to mention a word related to Harris or Biden’s vice presidential selection than they were any other topic, a dramatic change in the pattern of Biden’s mentions thus far. Biden’s top topics have varied in past weeks, with his choice for vice president bubbling up in the past two weeks, but far from dominant.
Democrats were more likely than independents and significantly more likely than Republicans to report hearing about Biden’s vice presidential selection.
Few other words stick out for Biden this week, but one of his new words was “mandate,” with “mask” landing in the top 20, suggesting some Americans heard Biden’s call for a national mask mandate.
In contrast, Americans heard about a range of new words for Trump. Coronavirus remains as the top word and topic Americans mention when asked what they’ve heard about him lately. But this week was the first where any other subject came close to overtaking it. Many Americans mentioned hearing about Harris in reference to Trump this week, almost tying with coronavirus as the top word.
The President responded to Harris’ selection by saying she was his “number one pick,” and then shared misinformation about her eligibility for the office.
A few mentioned the word “nasty,” a word Trump used frequently to refer to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and resurfaced in reference to Harris this week.
A significant number of Americans mentioned hearing about Trump’s involvement with the postal service in the last week, with references to the post office landing in the top five words.
News of the death of Robert Trump, the President’s younger brother, also reached the public, with mentions of “brother” landing in the top 10 words and second on the list of new words.
Other new words rising for Trump included mentions of the Middle East and Israel, with the US recently passing an agreement to establish normal ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Frequent words included “peace” and “Israel.”
Looking at the partisan divide in topics Americans remember hearing about regarding Trump, Democrats were more likely to say they heard about election security issues, including voting by mail, while Republicans cited hearing about the economy reopening.