Republicans express increasingly positive opinions about the presidential campaign and are now about as likely as Democrats to view the campaign as interesting and informative. In early September, shortly after the party conventions, far more Democrats than Republicans said the campaign was interesting and informative.
The new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 18-21 among 1,005 adults, finds that 63% of the public says the campaign is interesting, while 28% say it is dull. Last month, 53% found the campaign interesting. From January through June, majorities said the campaign was dull, and no more than about four-in-ten found it interesting.
Over the past month, the increase in the percentage saying the campaign is interesting has come entirely among Republicans and independents. In the new survey, conducted before Monday’s debate, 73% of Republicans say the campaign is interesting, up 23 points since early September and by far the highest percentage of the year. More independents also view the campaign as interesting (56% today, 45% in September).
The percentage of Democrats who say the campaign is interesting, which jumped 19 points between June and September, is unchanged since then (66%).
Compared with a month ago, far more Republicans also view the campaign informative (69% now, 49% then,). And substantially fewer say the campaign is “too long” than did so in September (42% now, 62% then). In fact, the percentage of Republicans who say the campaign is too long is now about as low as it was in January (49%) at the start of the GOP primaries.
Democrats’ and independents’ views about whether the campaign is informative and too long are little changed since September. On both measures, opinions among Democrats turned much more positive between June and September. (For more, see “Democrats Now More Positive on Campaign 2012,” Sept. 12, 2012.)
The new survey also finds no substantial partisan differences in opinions about whether the presidential campaign is too negative: 59% of independents, 56% of Republicans and 50% of Democrats say the campaign is too negative. A month ago, far more Republicans (63%) than Democrats (42%) said the campaign was too negative.
There is broad agreement that the presidential campaign is important: 86% say it is important compared with just 13% who say it is unimportant. Democrats (91%) and Republicans (90%) are more likely than independents (81%) to view the campaign as important.
Comparisons to 2008
Overall, fewer Americans say the campaign is interesting than did so at a comparable point in the 2008 campaign (63% today, 71% in October 2008). But while the percentage saying the campaign is interesting has increased dramatically since earlier in the year, it peaked early in 2008 during the primaries (70% in February), fell in the spring, and then recovered in the fall.
Fewer Democrats (66%) say the campaign is interesting than did so in October 2008 (80%). By comparison, about the same percentage of Republicans finds the campaign is interesting as did four years ago (73% today, 70% then).
Overall opinions about other aspects of the campaign are only modestly changed from four years ago. But more Republicans say the campaign is informative than did so in October 2008 (69% now, 57% then), while fewer Republicans view the presidential campaign as too long (42% now, 63% then). Fewer Democrats (50%) see the campaign as too negative than did so in October 2008 (62%).
Interest in Campaign News
Public interest in news about the campaign is lower than it was in October 2008. Currently 48% say they are following news about the election very closely. That is the highest percentage this year, though not significantly different from the previous two weeks, (45% in Oct. 12-14 and Oct. 4-7).
At a comparable point in mid-October 2008 (Oct. 17-20), 61% said they were following campaign very closely – the highest percentage of the campaign. Interest fell to 44% the following week, before rebounding to 57% the weekend before the election.