Few Americans focused on 2012 election at the moment

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
Font Size:

Though the media coverage of the 2012 election hit an all time high last week, Americans generally don’t seem to be paying much attention, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

According to the report, 2012 coverage accounted for 8 percent of the total news coverage last week. But just 5 percent of those polled said they followed the race for the White House more closely than any other story between May 12 and May 15, when the poll was conducted.

Only 15 percent of those polled said they had been following the narrative of the 2012 election very closely, making it the least followed story among the topics Pew asked about. The most followed story was the operation to kill Osama bin Laden and the situation in Pakistan, followed by the economy and the Mississippi river flooding.

Donald Trump was the candidate about whom Americans had heard the most, as the survey was conducted in the days before he announced that he did not plan to run. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was the second most heard of candidate, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. No other candidate was heard of by more than 2 percent of the public, and 50 percent of respondents either refused to answer the question or said they didn’t know.

The fact that few Americans are giving thought to the election suggests that the state of the GOP primary field has the potential to drastically change. Currently, as Gallup pointed out in a poll released yesterday, success in the polls at this early state tends to reflect name recognition. As more Americans begin to pay attention to the race and more candidates become household names, the polls could change substantially.

The survey was conducted between May 12 and May 15 on a “nationally representative sample of 1,006 adults.”