A conceptual scheme has been presented to examine media influence during the presidential primary season. The scheme, a byproduct of research on the role of the press in setting the public issue agenda, allows for an examination of media effects on what has been labeled the cognitive components of candidate image. Data from a longitudinal study conducted in upstate New York in the spring of 1976 are used to empirically test the conceptual framework. The data are interpreted to indicate that indeed there is a great deal of flux in certain aspects of public opinion during the presidential primary season. The media are seen as partial determinants of that flux.