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Conventional Wisdom

A political convention is like the prom for the pundits. Our pseudoscientific commentariat popularity contest.

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Illustration by Olivier Kugler  

It’s not just a big two weeks for Barack Obama and John McCain; it’s a big two weeks for the pundit class, who’ll spend four days in Denver and then four days in St. Paul incessantly chattering about everything the two candidates—and their entourages—say and do. And with some 15,000 credentialed media folk at each convention, the opinionmongers will be trying hard to stand out from the crowd. Who’s most popular? We developed a highly scientific formula to measure their star power, counting blog, newspaper, magazine, and TV-news mentions so far this year, Google hits, and how many presidential debates (in the primaries or planned for the general election) they moderated. Then, each pundit’s popularity in each category was calculated as a percentage of the highest score, and those five percentages were averaged. (So, theoretically, a dominating pundit who topped each tally would end up with a popularity score of 100.) Here’s the top 40.

Name Google Blogs Print TV Debates The Popularity Score!
1. Karl Rove 4.93 mil. 71,367 3,813 778 0 67.79
2. Rush Limbaugh 5.44 mil. 71,011 4,125 585 0 67.35
3. Jon Stewart 6.39 mil. 62,901 3,957 3342 0 62.77
4. Bill O’Reilly 4.61 mil. 53,105 2,046 1,122 0 59.23
5. Chris Matthews 2.86 mil. 40,750 1,754 47 2 47.31
6. G. Stephanopoulos 527,000 15,993 1,255 777 3 41.07
7. Stephen Colbert 3.8 mil. 44,933 2,622 174 0 40.30
8. Chris Wallace 759,000 . 12,307 1,023 293 4 36.01
9. Sean Hannity 2.36 mil. 27,114 1,174 796 0 34.87
10. Keith Olbermann 2.38 mil. 39,532 942 323 1 33.85
11. Ann Coulter 4.52 mil. 37,154 1,024 139 0 32.00
12. Lou Dobbs 2.07 mil. 19,463 678 39 0 28.57
13. George Wil 1.70 mil. 16,132 3,164 163 0 28.09
14. David Brooks 3.26 mil. 19,855 1,690 83 0 25.44
15. Tom Brokaw 1.18 mil. 18,394 1,414 238 1 24.95
16. Paul Krugman 3.73 mil. 22,461 866 33 0 22.76
17. Glenn Beck 1.85 mil. 21,539 831 273 0 20.72
18. Pat Buchanan 1.68 mil. 23,135 848 234 0 20.02
19. Michelle Malkin 2.74 mil. 27,040 615 38 0 19.81
20. Maureen Dowd 2.44 mil. 14,484 1,117 83 0 18.59
21. James Carville 514,000 12,690 1,266 402 0 18.47
22. Dick Morris 1.61 mil. 13,574 561 277 0 16.50
23. Bob Schieffer 406,000 6,884 507 305 1 16.09
24. A. Huffington 1.19 mil. 11,507 1,405 130 0 16.08
25. Bill Kristol 1.24 mil. 17,615  658 219 0 15.91
26. David Gregory 452,000 6,907 571 533 0 15.62
27. Andrea Mitchell 328,000 12,384 320 435 0 13.80
28. C. Krauthammer 904,000 . 9,157 1,131 144 0 13.45
29. Laura Ingraham 1.11 mil . 8,842 355 298 0 12.99
30. Jim Lehrer 893,000 6,185 461 16 1 12.05
31. Andrew Sullivan 2.34 mil. 3,704 561 25 25 11.53
32. Frank Rich 2.01 mil. 9,398 35 3 3 0 11.24
33. Donna Brazile 187,000 5,699 479 369  0 11.08
34. Chuck Todd 241,000 13,250 229 303 0 10.98
35. Hugh Hewitt 2.06 mil. 10,539 112 32 0 10.51
36. Glenn Greenwald 1.74 mil. 15,501 83 1 0 10.21
37. David Gergen 211,000 4,048 207 375 0 9.48
38. Jake Tapper 203,000 9,286 133 288 0 9.02
39. Jeffrey Toobin 192,000 2,620 230 346 0 8.62
40. Jonah Goldberg 1.11 mil. 1,199 745 53 0 8.37

Calculations by Katherine Ward

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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