Republicans and Democrats find little to agree on these days, but they have some similar reactions to the 2012 presidential campaign. Nearly identical percentages of Republicans and Democrats say the election will be exhausting. On the positive side, there also is widespread partisan agreement that the campaign will be informative.
The national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted in June among 2,013 adults, finds that just 49 percent expect the election to be exciting. Nearly six-in-ten Democrats (59 percent) say the election will be exciting, compared with 51 percent of Republicans and just 41 percent of independents.
The expectation that the election will be exhausting is in line with perceptions of the campaign so far. Most Americans, comparable percentages of Republicans, Democrats and independents, say the campaign has been too long and dull or that it has been too negative. At the same time, an overwhelming majority (79 percent) views the presidential campaign as important. And more than eight-in-ten Republicans (85 percent) and Democrats (83 percent) say the campaign is important, as do 77 percent of independents.
However, there are partisan differences in views of campaign 2012. Notably, fewer Republicans than Democrats say the campaign is interesting. Republicans are less likely to say the campaign is interesting – and more likely to view it as dull – than they were in late March, before Mitt Romney effectively wrapped up the GOP nomination.
Currently, 33 percent of Republicans say the presidential campaign is interesting down from 52 percent in late March. The share of Republicans describing this year’s campaign as dull has spiked from 42 percent to 60 percent since then. By contrast, Democrats are finding the campaign increasingly interesting as the general election gets underway. Currently, 45 percent say it is interesting, up from 36 percent in March.
While fewer Republicans than Democrats currently say the campaign has been interesting, GOP voters are more engaged than Democratic voters in the 2012 campaign. For instance, more Republicans are giving quite a lot of thought to the election and more say it really matters who wins. (For more see “GOP Holds Early Turnout Edge, But Little Enthusiasm for Romney,” June 21, 2012.)
Romney viewed as more personally critical
More voters say that both presidential candidates have been too personally critical of each other than did so at this point in the 2008 campaign.
Currently, 43 percent of registered voters say Mitt Romney has been too personally critical of Barack Obama, while 49 percent say he has not. Three-in-ten voters (30 percent) say Obama has been too critical of Romney, while about twice as many (61 percent) disagree.
In June 2008, just 26 percent of voters said John McCain was too personally critical of Obama, while even fewer (19 percent) said Obama was too critical of McCain.
Perceptions today are similar to the last time an incumbent was running for re-election. In June 2004, 44 percent of voters said John Kerry was too personally critical of George W. Bush, about the same as the percentage saying that about Romney today. And 33 percent said Bush was being too critical of Kerry, similar to the 30 percent that say that about Obama today.
Campaign ads seen as mix of positive, negative
With more than four months to go until Election Day, most voters (64 percent) say they have already seen or heard commercials about Romney and/or Obama. But just 16 percent say they have seen a lot of campaign ads at this early point in the race.
Voters in the closely contested battleground states are more likely than those in relatively safe Republican or Democratic states to have seen presidential campaign ads. Still, only about quarter (24 percent) of the voters in those states have seen a lot of ads, compared with 12 percent of voters in Republican and Democratic states.
Most (60 percent) who have seen or heard presidential campaign commercials this year say they have been a mix of positive and negative ads. Another 30 percent say the ads they have seen have been mostly negative, while just 7 percent say they have been mostly positive. This is comparable in both battleground and non-battleground states.
Source: Pew Research Center