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1 In 5 Americans Have Tuned Out The Election

According to a new CBS News poll, 20% of Americans basically consider the Presidential election an afterthought:

In spite of persistent, significant concerns about the economy, as many as one-fifth of American voters are paying little to no attention to the presidential election, according to a new CBS News poll.

Americans continue to say the country is headed in the wrong direction, and they are split over whether the nation is headed into another recession. Nearly four in 10 say they are worse off financially now than they were four years ago.

(…)

[A]ccording to the poll, conducted Aug. 22-26, voters’ attention to the campaign has not changed much since April when Romney all but locked-up the Republican Party’s nomination.

As many as 45 percent of registered now say they are paying a lot of attention, including slightly more Republicans (47 percent) than Democrats (42 percent). In April, 43 percent were paying a lot of attention. In August of 2008, 51 percent said they were paying a lot of attention.

Another 34 percent of voters say they are paying some attention, while 20 percent are paying little to no attention.

Given how this campaign has gone, and the nature of our political culture in general, I can’t say I blame people for tuning out. Indeed, when you live, as do I, in an area that is already getting bombarded with commercials from both campaigns and various SuperPACs, tuning out becomes somewhat of a necessity unless one wants to drive oneself insane.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    And these are self-reported numbers to a question where there’s great prestige is saying “high” and great stigma attached to saying “low.” I’m guessing it’s more like 1 in 5 who are paying much attention and 3 in 5 who are only vaguely aware there’s an election coming up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. michael reynolds says:

    I agree with James. No way in hell 4 out of 5 Americans are paying attention. For the first time in my life I’m not even watching the convention, and I’ve been a politics junkie my whole life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @michael reynolds: Yep. Four years ago, I watched every night of both conventions, and then the cable commentary afterwards. This year, I doubt I’ll watch either one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. grumpy realist says:

    Maybe this means we’ll see a burnout of the 24-“news” junkie culture with talking heads screaming at each other?

    One can only hope. Maybe “political pundit” will become the equivalent of “buggy-whip analyst.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Hell, that’s nothing. A much larger percentage of Zombieland could not even name the vice president. Shit, if you asked Zombieland basic questions about their own lives — e.g., who owns their mortgages, are they fully vested into SS retirement benefits, who insures their homes, what is the make and model of their cars, in what vehicles are their 401(k) monies invested, etc. — they’d have no clue. No idea. Could not tell you. Seriously, no f’n clue.

    All part and parcel of the big slide.

    P.S. — The nastiness of the campaign largely is a red herring. There are more fundamental issues afoot. I mean, come on, the attack ads only are running in several states. Over 40 states are being ignored by the campaigns themselves. What’s really going here is that the public has been dumbed down to a state of near catatonia. To a large extent that’s been by design. Do you actually believe it’s entirely a function of self-interest that the public K-12 teachers’ unions have and will continue fighting tooth and nail against such items as school vouchers, merit-based pay and at will employment? It’s not. To more than some extent it’s the implementation of a political strategy.

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  6. Ernieyeball says:

    Sudden Sam’s Telephone Poll:

    Sam: Who owns your mortgage?
    Citizen X: You mean the one I gave up in a Short Sale so I did not lose my pride along with my ass?

    Sam: Are you fully vested into SS retirement benefits and what’s up with your 401(k)?
    Citizen X: You’re kidding right? My Unemployment Benefits ran out almost two years ago. My part time job serving at the Doggie Diner is about tips so I don’t even get minimum wage…we do have 401 Alarm Chili.

    Sam: What is the make and model of your cars?
    Citizen X: Cars? What makes you think I have one that runs? Got me some roller skates!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Lately I’ve found I actually envy people who completely tuned out politics. Paying close attention to it doesn’t actually accomplish anything, it just makes you aware how much the whole thing sucks. I really wish I could not care about it, but for some reason I seem to be fundamentally incapable of it, even though it just makes me suffer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Ernieyeball says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Self abuse…Pleasure…Pain
    It’s a thin line

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  9. Chris Berez says:

    I wish I could tune out the stupid election. The constant bombardment of campaign ads is always hard to take. This past winter with the primaries I finally had no choice but to get rid of my landline after two weeks of my phone ringing nonstop every 15 minutes. And I’m not exaggerating about that either. Maybe what I need to do now is get rid of my cable and internet and hide under my bed until December.

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  10. An Interested Party says:

    What’s really going here is that the public has been dumbed down to a state of near catatonia. To a large extent that’s been by design. Do you actually believe it’s entirely a function of self-interest that the public K-12 teachers’ unions have and will continue fighting tooth and nail against such items as school vouchers, merit-based pay and at will employment? It’s not. To more than some extent it’s the implementation of a political strategy.

    Oh yes of course! It’s all part of the huge evil Liberal Conspiracy…the black helicopters will be arriving shortly…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Nikki says:

    To more than some extent it’s the implementation of a political strategy.

    Yup. And it began when civics was removed from the classroom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Nikki says:

    I really wish I could not care about it, but for some reason I seem to be fundamentally incapable of it, even though it just makes me suffer.

    Think of it as keeping an eye on that slow moving iceberg as it approaches the Titanic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Nikki says:

    @Chris Berez:

    Maybe what I need to do now is get rid of my cable and internet and hide under my bed until December.

    Hey, the internet is still good for porn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. Ernieyeball says:

    …the internet is still good for porn.

    Mitt and Paul sez: Not after we make Jenna the Sexretary of Morals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. al-Ameda says:

    Actually, I think they’ve tuned out the CAMPAIGNING, not the election.

    Speaking for myself, I’ve completely tuned out the Sunday morning pundit/opinion/interview shows – I absolutely do not care to listen to the participants recite campaign talking points. I figure that if in the unlikely event there is something newsworthy that comes out of those shows I’ll eventually hear about it.

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