As far as TV news shows were concerned, Hillary Clinton’s most shining moment in the sun while campaigning for the presidency occurred on September 27, 2016, the day after the first presidential debate. On that date, her name was mentioned 4,494 on national network news shows, an all time high over the the entire presidential campaign.

That same day, President-elect Donald Trump got 6,123 mentions.

One of the back stories of the 2016 presidential campaign is how adept Trump was at getting “free media.” The New York Times estimated this media was worth $2 billion to Trump–and that was back in March. Compared to Clinton, Trump’s paid political ad strategy was nearly non existent until the final days of the campaign. But on all but two days in the past six months he earned more TV news mentions than Clinton, according to data analyzed by data scientist Kalev Leetaru, using information from the TV News Archive.

Some of Trump’s high points were because of positive news for his campaign–but some came from negative news. Trump soared to 6,989 mentions on July 20, 2016, the day after he won the Republican nomination. On March 3, 2016, the count was at 6,899 mentions: that was the date that former GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain, R., Ariz., delivered a “detailed, thorough and lacerating assault,” on Trump, saying “He’s playing the American public for suckers.” (Since Trump’s successful election, Romney has met with the president-elect and is considered a top contender for position of secretary of state.) Another high was on October 10, 2016, when Trump got 7,272 mentions on the day after the second presidential debate, which was also a few days after an “Access Hollywood” tape leaked with audio of Trump talking about grabbing women by the genitals.

Trump’s highest point of all came on November 10, 2016, two days after the election, when he got 7,592 mentions on TV news networks. That same date, Clinton got 1,336 mentions. Ten days later, on November 20, Trump got 2,838 mentions, while Clinton’s mentions dropped off precipitously: she had only 225.

To delve more deeply in on TV news mentions of candidate names, check out Leetaru’s interactive tool, which allows the user to filter by candidate, particular networks, and other variables. The tool draws its information from the TV News Archive, a publicly available collection of TV news shows since 2009, which are searchable by closed captioning. Leetaru’s analysis draws on the closed captioning to create counts of candidate name mentions.


FOX News reports on Donald Trump’s presidential victory on November 10, 2016, as seen on the TV News Archive. On that date, he received 7,592 mentions on TV news shows, more than any other day during the presidential campaign.