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April 14, 2000 Contact: Melissa Ring (617) 496-9761

Out of Sight, Out of Mind:
Whatever Happened to the Presidential Campaign?

Voter Involvement Index Survey Methodology

Although the presidential campaign is still underway, that is hardly evident in either the news media's coverage of or the public's interest in it. Both have fallen dramatically from their peak in early March when the Super Tuesday primaries were held.

  Voter Involvement Index
Apr. 5-9 22%
Mar. 29-Apr. 2 25%
Mar. 22-26 27%
Mar. 15-19 30%
Mar. 10-14 37%
Mar. 8-12 46%
Mar. 1-5 38%
Source: Shorenstein Center Poll
Sampling error: ±6%

The Shorenstein Center national poll conducted March 8-12 found that 36% of Americans claimed to be paying close attention to the campaign. In the most recent poll, only 19% were doing so. Other indicators of campaign involvement have also fallen sharply. Compared with the nearly 40% who claimed to have discussed the campaign with another person on a typical day in early March, less than 20% now claim to have had such a conversation during the past day.

News coverage of the campaign has also declined dramatically. The Vanishing Voter Project has been tracking campaign coverage in five major U.S. newspapers since the beginning of the year. During the week of Super Tuesday, the average paper ran nearly seven campaign stories per day. In the week ending April 7, the five papers together only ran 6.3 stories each day a mere 1.3 stories per paper per day. By comparison, the Elián González story averaged more than twice that many stories (three per day) during the same period.

The results reported here are from nationwide telephone surveys of approximately 1,000 adults conducted November 14, 1999 April 9, 2000. The surveys have a sampling error of ±3%. The Vanishing Voter Project is a study by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Funding for the project is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The project is co-directed by Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government & the Press at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard, and by Marvin Kalb, Executive Director of the Shorenstein Center's office in Washington.

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