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PEJ: Perry Tops Coverage, But Cain Gains

Tex. Governor Rick Perry has gotten the most, and the most positive, coverage from the national news media in the first months of the 2012 presidential race, but Herman Cain is gaining on him.

That is according to a new Project of Excellence in Journalism study released Monday.

The study of coverage from 52 major national media outlets combined with content assessments of some 11,500 found that Perry coverage made up 17% of the campaign stories between May 2 and Oct. 9, with Mitt Romney second at 13%.

Cain was seventh in amount of coverage over that same period, with the tone only moderately more positive than negative. But in August, Cain's coverage began to improve even before his rise in the polls, and in September, he generated more news coverage than he had in the previous four months combined, according to PEJ, when he had been "virtually ignored."

Perry's coverage was 32% positive, according to PEJ, with 20% negative and 48% neutral. Romney's coverage was about evenly split at 26% positive and 27% negative, with 47% neutral.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann got the third-most coverage at 10%, with 31% of that positive, 23% negative and 46% neutral.

And even though she never officially threw her hat in the ring, Sarah Palin was the fourth most covered GOP campaign figure and the most blogged about.

President Barack Obama claimed the lowest positive score with only 9% of the coverage in the plus category, while 34% of the coverage was negative and 57% neutral.