News Interest Index: Democratic Campaign Taking a Toll on Both Obama and Clinton

May 01, 2008

Over the past six weeks the intense, and often negative, contest between Obama and Clinton has dominated media coverage of the campaign as well as public attention. And over this period, more Americans have consistently said their views of Obama and Clinton have become less favorable, rather than more favorable, in recent days. 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. (In each survey, a majority said their opinions of the candidates have not been affected by the campaign.)

Meanwhile, John McCain has received far less attention from the media or the public, and this is reflected in public reactions over this period. Relatively fewer people say their opinion has either improved or worsened. In the latest survey, just 14% say their impression of McCain has become more favorable in recent days, and just 16% say less favorable.

While the public's immediate reactions have been somewhat negative toward both Democratic candidates, the cumulative effect of this period has been more significant for Obama. The latest Pew Research Center for the People & the Press poll finds Obama's favorability rating down 4 points and his unfavorable rating up 8 points since March. Clinton's overall favorability ratings started far lower than Obama's and have shifted only marginally since March, though other negative ratings of both Clinton and Obama have grown. McCain's overall favorability ratings, on the other hand, have not declined at all. [See "Obama's Image Slips, His Lead Over Clinton Disappears" also released May 1, 2008 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.]

Read the full report Democratic Campaign Taking a Toll on Both Obama and Clinton; McCain Stays Under the Radar on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.

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