In addition, horse race coverage is popular, and therefore lucrative for media companies:
Given access to a wide variety of news reports about the presidential campaign in the weeks immediately preceding the 2000 election, we find that voters were drawn to reports on the horserace and strategy. Strategy reports proved far more popular than reports about the issues.There is a downside however. Horse race coverage produces voters who are poorly-informed, as shown here in an analysis of how this type of coverage impacted public understanding during last year's healthcare debate:
While there was certainly a lot of coverage of the bill, the framing and mix of what got covered may have contributed to the public’s confusion on the issue. While the largest component, by far, focused on politics, only a small fraction highlighted the issue at the core of the debate—how the U.S. health care industry actually functions.Horse race coverage has also been found to boost cynicism, eroding public confidence in government generally:
Although media organizations stand to profit, the overproduction of horserace news takes a toll on the political commons. Our results indicate that exposure to this genre of campaign news contributed to increased cynicism about the candidates and the electoral process itself.