News Interest Index: Interest in Floods Increases, Still Lower than for '93 Deluge

  • June 25, 2008

As the floods in the Midwest continued to devastate parts of that region, public interest in the story increased moderately last week, but still remained significantly lower than interest in the massive floods that struck the region in 1993.

Roughly four-in-ten (39%) followed the floods in the Midwest very closely, up from 34% a week earlier. The floods were the public's top story last week with twice as many people citing the floods as their most closely followed story than cited the presidential campaign (38% vs. 19%). By contrast, news organizations devoted somewhat more coverage to the campaign than to the flooding. Still, public interest in Midwestern flooding is far lower than it was for the region's historic 1993 floods. In August 1993, nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) followed the flooding very closely.

The public is largely satisfied with the amount of media coverage the Midwest floods have received. Fully 72% say that news organizations have been giving the right amount of coverage to the floods. Another 17% thought that the floods were under-covered and just 9% found the coverage excessive

There is much less satisfaction with the federal government's response to the floods. Only about a third of the public (34%) say the federal government has done an excellent or good job in responding to the floods, which is on par with the public's low ratings for the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina (38% excellent or good). By contrast, a solid majority (58%) gave positive marks to the federal government's response to last autumn's California wildfires.

Read the full report Interest in Floods Increases, Still Lower than for '93 Deluge on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.