The media devoted comparable levels of coverage to the spill and news about last week's primaries and the 2010 midterm elections (each accounted for 18% of the newshole), but the public showed much less interest in the political developments (5% followed this most closely) than the crisis in the gulf (46% most closely).
The latest News Interest Index survey, conducted May 20-23 among 1,002 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, finds that the news topics that come up frequently in conversation have changed markedly in recent years: Far more people say they frequently discuss the job situation, the economy and political corruption with their family and friends than did so in 2006; by contrast, far fewer say that gas and energy prices, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and terrorism come up frequently in conversation.
Notably, just 27% of the public says that political campaigns and elections come up frequently in conversation – the lowest percentage of 11 items tested. But fully half (51%) of those who agree with the Tea Party movement say politics is a frequent topic of their conversations.
Read the full report, Public, Media Track Oil Spill, Diverge On Elections on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.