New York Times columnist John Tierney surveyed 153 campaign journalists at a press party at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, and found a huge preference for Democratic Senator John Kerry over President George W. Bush, particularly among journalists based in Washington, D.C. While journalists from outside Washington preferred Kerry by a three-to-one margin, those inside the Beltway favored Kerry's election by a 12-to-1 ratio.
Tierney found a strong preference for the liberal Kerry: 'When asked who would be a better president, the journalists from outside the Beltway picked Mr. Kerry 3 to 1, and the ones from Washington favored him 12 to 1. Those results jibe with previous surveys over the past two decades showing that journalists tend to be Democrats, especially the ones based in Washington.'
To see why journalists preferred Kerry, 'we asked our respondents which administration they'd prefer to cover the next four years strictly from a journalistic standpoint.' More than half the journalists thought Bush was the better news subject: 'The Washington respondents said they would rather cover Mr. Kerry, but by a fairly small amount, 27 to 21, and the other journalists picked Bush, 56 to 40....The overall result was 77 for Bush, 67 for Mr. Kerry.'
'We tried to test for a likeability bias. With which presidential nominee, we asked, would you rather be stranded on a desert island? Mr. Kerry was the choice of both groups: 31 to 17 among the Washington journalists, and 51 to 39 among the others. 'Bush's religious streak,' one Florida correspondent said, 'would drive me nuts on a desert island.''