Both Obama and Romney received overwhelmingly negative treatment in the press over the general election, according to Pew. From Aug. 27 to Oct. 21, a period that encompassed both conventions and three out of four debates, just 19 percent of stories about Obama were “favorable” in tone versus 30 percent that were “unfavorable. For Romney the ratio was 15 percent favorable to 38 percent unfavorable.
The gap between those numbers is largely accounted for by Obama’s relative frontrunner status for much of the observed period. For stories that didn’t concern the horse race aspect of the campaign, the two received near identical (if still negative) coverage: 15 percent positive to 32 percent negative for Obama verus 14 percent positive and 32 percent negative for Romney.
Dylan Byers looks at the cable news wars:
From August 27 through October 21, 71 percent of MSNBC's coverage of Mitt Romney this year was negative, far outperforming Fox News's negative coverage of President Barack Obama, which came in at 46 percent… The negative-to-positive ratio on MSNBC was roughly 23-to-1; the negative-to-positive ratio on Fox News was 8-to-1.
Alex Fitzpatrick notes that social media coverage was more negative than traditional media coverage:
[The study] found that the conversation on social media “has been relentlessly negative and relatively unmoved by campaign events that have shifted the mainstream narrative” compared to mainstream media election coverage. How bad is it? Across Twitter, Facebook and blogs, neither Obama nor Romney had a single week of more positive than negative chatter.
The tone of the blogosphere is illustrated in the above chart.