People Paying Attention to Presidential Race

Pew Chart: People Paying Attention to Presidential Race (small) Despite the fact that the 2008 race for the White House started about a year earlier than usual, a surprising number of Americans are paying very close attention to it already, according to a Pew survey.

Charles Franklin notes that we’re treading new ground here and it’s hard to know what to make of it:

Comparing attention today with past races, we appear about 5-6 months ahead of attention in previous cycles. The 20-25% paying high attention now is usually reached around January of the election year. One interesting question is how much, and how soon, attention will grow. Perhaps we are starting high this cycle, but will converge to the range of previous cycles by January. Or perhaps we’ll remain above past races through November 2008. Wait and see.

My guess is that it’ll depend on the dynamics of the race itself. Interest is higher now than it usually is at this point in the cycle because the race itself is further along. Because the nominations will likely be decided earlier than usual, interest will probably fall off faster than usual. Whether it rebounds to normal levels or even higher will likely depend on who the candidates are, whether there is one or more interesting “third party” candidate in the race, and how tight the race looks to be going down the stretch.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Public Opinion Polls,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. yetanotherjohn says:

    I think we have a bit of a perfect storm that is driving interest up. We have significant issues present (e.g. War on terror/Iraq/Invading Pakistan ala Obama), we have an election cycle that does not have a sitting president/vice president running for one party, we have new media (bloggers, youtube, etc) expanding the number of voices heard (vs. three networks and your hometown paper or papers in 1962), we have a front loaded primary schedule that makes the earlier campaign time more important, we are coming off of an election with very high percentage and total numbers of voters and we have a host of viable candidates in both parties (aka candidates who pass the James Joyner sniff test for having a chance to be elected).

    Or to put it another way, given all of that, wouldn’t you be surprised if interest wasn’t up.