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Update: What Americans Read, Hear and See About Candidates

Update: What Americans Read, Hear and See About Candidates

Hillary Clinton's "health bump" in the public's eye has faded. Americans were significantly more likely to have recalled reading, hearing or seeing something about Clinton last week -- in the wake of her health issues -- than they were about Trump. But by Thursday, Americans had returned to the point where they were as likely to have heard about Trump as about her.

Have You Read, Seen or Heard Anything About Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump in Last Day or Two?

Much of what Americans read or heard about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump this week focused on the reaction to an event that happened last weekend: the bombings in New York and New Jersey.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the most frequent word used in respondents' comments regarding what they had most recently heard about each campaign was "bombing." The word was also cited frequently on Monday, though it was not most frequent. For Clinton, the discussion of the terrorist attacks allowed, for a brief moment, mentions of "email" or "health" to decline in relative terms. Donald Trump Jr.'s comparison of allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S. with eating from a bowl of Skittles with a few poisoned pieces prompted words such as "son" and "Skittle(s)" to appear among the most frequent words Americans used to describe what they had recently heard about Trump for Monday and Tuesday of this week.

By Wednesday, the information respondents were receiving about the candidates was returning to a familiar pattern. For Trump, respondents mentioned items that closely corresponded with his recent activities. Trump's strong endorsement of "stop and frisk" police policies in the middle of the week saw words such as "stop," "frisk" and "people" among the most common words associated with him on Wednesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, respondents also mentioned his comments on a police shooting that resulted in the death of a black man in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the subsequent protests in response to the killing.

By contrast, once the dust from last weekend's terrorist attacks settled, a set of familiar words returned to the top of the list of words Americans most commonly used to describe what they recently heard about Hillary Clinton: her health and her use of private emails as secretary of state. "Health" was the top word on Wednesday and the third on Thursday, and "email" was the second-most-common word on Thursday. One of Clinton's major campaign activities this week -- a speech on Wednesday about the rights of disabled Americans -- was not on the list of the most frequent things people had heard about Clinton.

There are two exceptions to these findings worth pointing out: Mentions of Donald Trump's charitable foundation are becoming more common, with the entity being in or very near the "top 10" most common words associated with Trump for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. This follows a string of stories by The Washington Post (including one on Tuesday) investigating the foundation.

Meanwhile, the word "debate" was the top word for Clinton on Thursday, as Americans recalled hearing stories about her preparation and anticipated performance in the event next Monday.

There are few significant differences in the information respondents reported about Trump in the last few days by party identification. Democrats were somewhat more likely to mention "stop and frisk," while Republicans and independents were equally likely to mention the bombings in the New York/New Jersey area. There were no differences between the responses of male and female respondents.

For Clinton, on the other hand, independents and Republicans continue to mention health most prominently, followed by the bombing. Democrats less frequently mentioned health than the bombing. For both male and female respondents, health was the most prominent mention about Clinton.

Gallup, Michigan, Georgetown Working Group: Frank Newport, Lisa Singh, Stuart Soroka, Michael Traugott, Andrew Dugan

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