News Interest Index: Democratic Primaries Register Strongly with Public, Less Interest in GOP Race

  • January 17, 2008

There has been no shortage of drama in either party's early presidential primaries, but in the public's view the Democratic contest has been far more compelling. Four-in-ten Americans (40%) say they find the Democratic primary race very interesting, nearly double the proportion describing the Republican race as very interesting (21%).

While press coverage of the campaign during the week of the New Hampshire primaries focused mainly on Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain, the public remained focused primarily on the two Democratic frontrunners. McCain got virtually no boost in terms of his public visibility from the significant increase in press coverage of his campaign.

According to analysis by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, for the period Jan. 6-11, 25% of campaign news stories were primarily about Clinton. Nearly four-in-ten Americans (39%) named Clinton as the candidate they have heard the most about in the news lately – making her the most visible candidate from either party. About the same proportion of news stories focused primarily on Obama (16%) and McCain (15%). Yet while they received comparable amounts of coverage, fully 37% named Obama as the candidate they heard the most about, while just 4% named McCain.

Most Americans (51%) believe that news organizations devote more coverage to the Democratic than the Republican primary campaign. By contrast, just 2% say the Republicans have gotten more coverage, while 42% say both contests have received about equal coverage. In fact, the Democratic race has been covered more extensively. The Project for Excellence in Journalism found that during the week of the New Hampshire primary, 43% of all campaign stories focused mainly on the Democratic race while 32% were mostly about the Republicans. Another 19% of the stories were about candidates from both parties.

Read the full report Democratic Primaries Register Strongly with Public, Less Interest in GOP Race on the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Web site.