News Interest Index: Few Will Miss Following Campaign News

Nov 12, 2008

By all accounts, the public liked Campaign 2008 and followed election news avidly. But enough is enough. Fully 82% say they will not miss following election news, while only 17% say they will miss it. Even among Democrats, only a quarter say they will miss the campaign.

Many Americans (23%) say they are saving a newspaper with headlines about Barack Obama’s victory for posterity.  Among African Americans, more than half (55%) say they are saving a newspaper with election headlines. Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to be saving a post-election newspaper (36% vs. 9%).

As expected, the election was the dominant news story last week, with 60% following news about the election very closely and 39% citing it as their top story of the week. Nearly a quarter of Americans (23%) followed news about the congressional elections very closely, with 2% saying they followed it more closely than other any other story.

In other election-related news last week, 39% paid very close attention to plans for the new Obama administration, and 12% listed this as their most closely followed news story.  Democrats were much more interested than Republicans in news about the president-elect:  57% of Democrats vs. 24% of Republicans followed plans for the new administration very closely.  Among independents, 32% followed the early transition news very closely.

With all the competing election headlines, the public paid relatively little attention to the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which essentially banned same-sex marriage in that state.  Only 18% followed this story very closely, and 4% listed this as their most closely followed news story of the week. The national news media devoted 2% of its overall coverage to this story.

America’s Favorite Campaign Journalists

As the Pew Research Center’s Weekly News Interest Index has shown, the public followed news about the 2008 presidential campaign more closely than any presidential election in the past 20 years. Americans relied primarily on television news for information about the campaign, and cable TV was the dominant medium. [See “Internet Now Major Source of Campaign News” released October 31, 2008.] 

When asked to name their favorite and least favorite campaign journalist or commentator, Bill O’Reilly was named most frequently as the favorite – and as the least favorite. O’Reilly was named by 5% as their favorite journalist or commentator, while 3% each named Tom Brokaw and Sean Hannity. However, fully half could not name anyone as their favorite.

Read the full report Few Will Miss Following Campaign News on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.

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