Americans are following the 2008 presidential campaign more closely than they did in 2004, according to data released today by the National Annenberg Election Survey of the University of Pennsylvania. The level of interest in the campaign has remained high throughout the campaign season among all ideological segments of the population, Democrats, Republicans, and independents (see Table 3).
More than three-quarters of adults in the United States (78%) report following the 2008 presidential campaign “very closely” or “somewhat closely.” When asked a comparable question in 2004, 57% of adults reported following the Democratic primary “very closely” or “somewhat closely.”
“The 2008 presidential campaign has produced a surge in political interest among all demographic groups,” said Kate Kenski, a senior analyst for the National Annenberg Election Survey and an assistant professor of communication at the University of Arizona. “Political scholars often worry that Americans do not pay enough attention to politics. This campaign season has demonstrated that competitive races with the right candidates can trigger interest.”
“The percentage of Americans paying close attention to the presidential campaign increased from mid-December to the beginning of February, and it has remained high ever since.”
Among demographic groups this year, older respondents were more likely to follow the campaign closely than were younger respondents. Respondents with higher incomes were more likely to report following the campaign closely than were those with lower incomes. Those living in urban areas were more likely to report following the campaign closely than were those in rural areas. Democrats were slightly more likely to report following the campaign very closely than were Republicans and independents.
Data for this study were collected between December 17, 2007 and March 18, 2008 from 20,225 adults and between December 1, 2003 and March 8, 2004 from 18,007 adults in the United States. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 0.7 percentage points for the samples overall. For subsamples within the study, the margins of sample error are larger, depending on the sample sizes of the groups being analyzed. The wording of the question was slightly different in 2004 from 2008 because in 2004 there was only one competitive major party primary race, the Democratic one.