© The Author(s) 2019.Opinion polls form an important part of modern election coverage but might also shape amount and tone of other subsequent coverage about political parties. We propose to use and elaborate on Patterson’s generic storylines to help account for different findings in prior research, by pointing to the importance of race context. A manual content analysis (N = 3755) of the 2013 German Bundestag election campaign is used to empirically test our framework, using a multilevel model that separates effects of 36 polls on coverage of five different parties in 11 different outlets. Results show that the amount of party coverage for the front runner party increased after drops in its ratings, and the challenger party received more negative coverage after increases in its poll ratings. Media coverage did not follow a bandwagon trend but played an independent and counteracting role within the election campaign.