Comparative determinants of horse-race coverage


Susan Banducci

Chris Hanretty


January 17, 2014


We investigate the levels of horse-race coverage in 160 different European print and broadcast outlets in 27 different countries at three different points in time. We match information on outlets’ content to survey-based information on the average levels of interest in politics and education of outlets’ audiences. We formulate hypotheses concerning journalists’ and citizens’ preferences over the ideal level of horse-race coverage, as well as hypotheses concerning the information content of horse-race coverage in different party systems. After controlling for the composition of each outlet’s audience, we find that horse-race coverage is most frequent in polarized party systems with close electoral contests, and in large markets with professional journalists. These findings challenge the traditional view of horse-race journalism as a ‘low-quality’ form of news.


You can find the version accepted by the journal here. The (gated) version of record can be found here.

Replication data

Replication data can be found at the Harvard Dataverse


Banducci, Susan, and Chris Hanretty. 2014. “Comparative Determinants of Horse-Race Coverage.” European Political Science Review 6 (4): 621–40.