Mitt Romney will be on Meet the Press on Sunday, talking about the Sochi Olympics and the future of the GOP. It seems like he's been on TV a lot recently, more than, say, John McCain after 2008. Well, Romney's media profile has actually been pretty modest — coming up short against McCain, and, by another metric, even against McCain's running mate.
I did date-specific searches at Nexis to see how often each of the last six losing presidential candidates were mentioned on television news for the six months after the loss and then the six months after that. Nexis puts a cap on results at 3,000, but even so, it was revelatory.
While Romney was mentioned more in the period from June to December of last year than former Vice President Al Gore, each of the other three most-recent losers were mentioned more than Romney. (Al Gore, of course, was still vice president for a period in his first six months; that contamination is why I didn't even bother looking at George H. W. Bush in 1993.) John Kerry and John McCain were sitting senators, of course, which almost certainly boosted their numbers.
But the really interesting comparison was looking at Google search traffic. Google's Trends tool lets you visualize search queries since 2004, allowing me to compare the past three presidential races.
Here's how interest in each of the losing candidates fared over time.
When you add Obama into the mix, it doesn't actually change that much; people were nearly as interested in Kerry in 2004 as in Obama in 2008.
Interest in Sarah Palin blows every other vice presidential candidate out of the water — including the man who actually became vice president.
But she also was a focus of more interest than even Obama in 2008 — in part because no one had ever heard of her.
What we're really interested in, though, is how Romney's done at getting attention over the past 12 months compared to other losing candidates. When it comes to Google search interest, the answer is clear.
In television transcript mentions, Romney wins: 1226 to Palin's 551. Apparently those mentions didn't inspire a rush to Google.