Even with a partisan enthusiasm gap, voter interest is already as high as in November of recent elections, two trends that may significantly alter the composition of the eventual electorate in the Democrats' favor. The proportion of swing voters is also up compared with four years ago. Nearly half of independents (47%) are undecided or may change their minds, up from 28% in June 2004.
While Obama and McCain received similar levels of media coverage, Obama remained by far the most visible candidate. Only 11% of Americans cited McCain as the candidate they had heard the most about, while more than seven-in-ten (71%) named Obama.
In a relatively light week of campaign coverage, attention focused on policy differences. Still, a fair amount of attention was also paid to some controversies and gaffes.
Already in this campaign season, more Americans -- 46% -- have gone online to get political news and campaign information than in all of 2004.
More of the public heard about controversies related to Obama than other campaign events. Even so, far more Americans believe press coverage has favored him than think it has favored Clinton.
A new analysis of media coverage during the first ten weeks of the 2008 primary season finds the dominant personal narratives about Obama and Clinton were almost identical in tone, and were both twice as positive as negative. The coverage of McCain's character was less positive than that of either Democratic candidate.
After largely being treated as a bystander to the Democrats' contest, the GOP nominee emerged as a featured player in campaign coverage. But that exposure is not always wanted or positive attention.
While much of the public focused on international events, cable news focused on the campaign almost to the exclusion of other top news stories. Also, though well covered, awareness of John Edwards' endorsement of Obama was relatively low.
In a campaign with more twists than a Twilight Zone episode, the media all but officially pronounced Obama the Democratic nominee last week.
In four separate surveys conducted since March 20, when asked about each of the Democratic candidates, between 25%-31% of the public has said their opinions have recently become less favorable.