Analysis: Presidential Candidates Didn't Benefit from Last Week's TV Town Halls

(Image credit: Cision)

According to analytics company Cision and based on tracking online mentions, neither of the town halls last week featuring the presidential candidates did them much good.

"By looking at a number of positive and negative keywords and phrases, a sizable portion of both Trump and Biden’s coverage had a negative tone. In fact, three of the four most popular Trump mentions were 'failed,' 'lies' and 'misleading.' And Biden fared worse. His top four mentions were 'softball,' 'misleading,' 'lies' and 'failed,' " the company said.

Trump appeared on an ABC town hall Sept. 15 while Biden appeared on CNN two days later (Sept. 17). Trump got some tough grilling on ABC while the general review of Biden was that CNN was much softer on the Democratic candidate.

The top issues for each as measured by online mentions were, for Trump: coronavirus, law and order, the economy and immigration. For Biden they were: coronavirus, the economy, law and order and climate change. 

"Based on the media coverage, we don’t believe Trump nor Biden’s respective town halls were beneficial to either candidate," Cision said. "The real test will be at the first debate."

The two candidates are squaring off directly on Tuesday, Sept. 27, moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.