News Interest Index: Campaign News Interest Dips

With the presidential campaign in something of a lull, public interest in campaign news has declined. Last week, 33% of the public paid very close attention to campaign news, down from 44% in mid-February. Public interest in the campaign, which had consistently surpassed attentiveness to previous presidential contests, is now comparable to the level measured in April 2004 (31% very closely).

The public is generally aware of salient facts about the presidential race and the candidates' backgrounds. Fully 77% correctly named Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate with the highest number of pledged delegates. In addition, a solid majority correctly estimated John McCain's age, with 59% saying he is in his 70s (McCain is 71).

Fewer Americans were able to come up with the name of the state where the next major Democratic primary contest will be held. About four-in-ten (41%) could recall Pennsylvania as the next primary state, while 48% did not know and 11% mentioned another state.

The latest weekly News Interest Index also shows that public awareness of the U.S. death toll in Iraq has risen dramatically since early March. Currently, 60% correctly estimated the number of military deaths, up from just 28% in early March. For most of the course of the war, approximately half of Americans were aware of the general level of fatalities.

Read the full report Campaign News Interest Dips on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.

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