As the long presidential campaign wound down last week, the public remained highly engaged. Fully 60% of registered voters said they were following campaign news very closely, while 28% said they were following fairly closely. That is the highest level of voter interest just before a presidential election since the Pew Research Center began tracking campaign news interest in 1988.
The final Pew Research Center Weekly News Interest Index of the campaign finds that the public continued to hear a great deal about Joe the Plumber, the Ohio man who became nationally known after he confronted Barack Obama about his tax proposal. More than half of Americans (55%) say they heard a lot about ‘Joe' campaigning with John McCain. Among other events last week, stories about long lines at early voting sites also registered widely (54% heard a lot).
A review of more than 75 campaign events since late 2007 shows that the top stories include a mix of historic moments, political gaffes, and the emergence of Joe the Plumber (Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher), perhaps the year's most unlikely political celebrity. The top event occurred in June, when Obama locked up the Democratic nomination. Nearly three-quarters of the public (73%) said they heard a lot about that event.
Read the full report Election Weekend News Interest Hits 20-Year High on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.