Americans Wait With Little Interest (Yet) For The Presidential Race To Heat Up

May 18, 2012, 1:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 5/12/2012) With President Obama’s announcement of support for gay marriage, the Presidential campaign roared into the headlines, but the contest has hardly begun to captivate Americans according to the latest Economist/YouGov poll. Overall, barely one-in-three (35%) are following news about the 2012 Presidential election campaign very closely.

Disinterest in the Presidential campaign may be related to press fascination with gay rights issues this past week: While press attention was riveted to the views of Obama and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney on gay rights issues, just 17% rate gay rights a very important issue and just 1% name it the most important issue.

Disinterest may also be related to the impression most Americans in the middle of the partisan and ideological spectrum feel toward the parties and their standard bearers that seem to be receding in opposite directions from the middle. Pluralities of Americans say both that the Democratic Party has grown more liberal over the past generation (43% have that impression) and that the Republican Party has grown more conservative (39%). Fewer than one-in-four rate either Obama or Romney “moderate” on an ideological scale (although Americans are twice as like to rate Obama very liberal as they are to rate Romney very conservative).

Or maybe the lack of interest is something as simple as the contest not seeming very competitive yet—while Romney leads Obama by 46%-42% in this poll, most think Obama will win—47% say Obama will win, only 26% think Romney will win, and 27% think it’s a 50-50 race or they are not sure who will win.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association