2012 Election? In hot summer, it’s leaving Americans cold
A long spell of brutally hot weather is not the only thing making Americans cranky this summer.
With four months still to go before the presidential election on Nov. 6, Americans seem to be experiencing the 2012 campaign more like studying for a big math test than watching an exciting neck-and-neck horse race, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. More Republicans in particular are bored with the campaign.
The poll 0f 2,013 adults conducted June 7-17 found that most Americans find the presidential election campaign between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to be important and informative – but also exhausting, annoying, too negative, too long and dull.
More Republicans in particular find the campaign boring, and they were far more likely to feel so in June than in March, before Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, locked up their party’s presidential nomination.
In contrast, more Democrats are finding the campaign interesting now than in March, although comparable numbers of Democrats and Republicans say the contest has been too long and too negative.
The Pew survey found that 60 percent of Republicans found the campaign dull in June, up 18 percent from the 42 percent who said so three months earlier. Thirty-three percent of Republicans said the campaign was interesting in the most recent poll, down sharply from 52 percent in March. Forty-five percent of Democrats said in June that they find the campaign interesting, compared with 46 percent who think it is dull. In March, 36 percent of Democrats found it interesting, compared with 55 percent in the dull camp.
Independents are yawning most of all. Among them, 65 percent found the campaign dull in the June survey, versus 56 percent in March, as the number who found the campaign interesting slipped to 27 percent from 31 percent.
Taking all the survey responses into account, 56 percent of all Americans find the 2012 campaign dull, compared with 34 percent who find it interesting.
However, to those who think this year is especially grueling, Pew noted that presidential election campaigns are usually snoozers in June. The only recent exception? 2008 – when Obama’s quest to become the first black president and the bid by New York Senator Hillary Clinton to be the first woman to hold the office compelled Democrats, and the “maverick” war hero, Arizona Senator John McCain, was leading the Republican charge.
Four years ago, nearly two-thirds of Americans – 59 percent – deemed the campaign interesting, versus 35 percent who were bored.
But Republicans may be more willing to engage in things they do not find scintillating, Pew said, which could be a good sign for Romney’s camp.
“While fewer Republicans than Democrats currently say the campaign has been interesting, GOP voters are more engaged than Democratic voters in the 2012 campaign. For instance, more Republicans are giving quite a lot of thought to the election and more say it really matters who wins,” Pew said.
Both sides – especially Romney’s – might want to tone down the negative ads, Pew found. Currently 43 percent of registered voters say the Republican has been too critical of Obama, and 49 percent say he has not. Three-in-10 voters (30 percent) said Obama has been too critical of Romney, while about twice as many (61 percent) do not.
On the bright side for Americans worried by the country’s stark political divides, if not the Obama and Romney camps, the poll result shows there is something, at least, on which Americans of all political persuasions have found common ground – during a sizzling summer, the election is leaving them cold.
Download a PDF of the full Pew report here.
Picture credit: A member of the audience yawns behind a copy of her program for the Franklin County Lincoln Day Dinner, where U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney delivered remarks, in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, April 22, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst