More Americans Paying Close Attention to News

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 09:12


Gallup has some polling data that should provide a bit of optimism about the state of the country. Over the past decade, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of Americans reporting that they are paying "very close" attention to the news:


Even adjusting for the peaks around Presidential elections, that is clearly an upward trend. Just guessing, but some factors involved in this increase include:

  • New technologies and media that make it easier to follow the news
  • Political and economic turbulence
  • An aging population
It is also worth noting that Democrats actually pay less attention to the news than do Republicans:


Reasons for this gap are largely demographic. According to Gallup, there is a correlation between high income, older age and paying close attention to the news, which favors Republicans. Also, according to Gallup's data, men (42%) pay significantly closer attention to the news than women (30%), which also favor Republicans.

The Republican advantage shows that while there is an increase in civic engagement taking place in America, that engagement does not necessarily favor progressives. More people are paying attention to the news, but not necessarily the lower-income, largely younger people who have been most severely hurt by the economy of the past decade. No matter how successful Democrats have been in wooing and increasing turnout among young people, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Chris Bowers :: More Americans Paying Close Attention to News

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There are many reasons for that .. (4.00 / 1)
More people are paying attention to the news, but not necessarily the lower-income, largely younger people who have been most severely hurt by the economy of the past decade.

but where do younger people turn to "news" besides TDS and TCR?  What are the demographics of Maddow's show?  There isn't a Progressive voice on a widely accessible channel(and I don't count MSNBC as widely accessible .. because it's not) .. and besides .. MSNBC is more like Faux .. despite having KO and Maddow .. just look at their roster of talking heads


whoa there, boy! (4.00 / 2)
let's unscramble this part of what you wrote:

The Republican advantage shows that while there is an increase in civic engagement taking place in America,

huh? how is following the SCLM "an increase in civic engagement?" that's really a bad formulation, imho. paying attention to what the SCLM says about national politics, by definition means a passive diet of mostly lies and calls to inaction, if not the wrong action.

the teabaggers were a paid astroturf movement, that's been documented. as to this survey, it bothers me that this is such generalized data, and isn't really the meaningful way to ascertain the specifics about what people consume and define as "news" and where that information comes from. i don't think i could even answer the question as asked without specification. yes, i closely follow american politics. no, i don't get info about that from "news" programs as conventionally defined. the senate just said that "amateur" bloggers aren't "real" journalists. does that make what i read less factual? as we're fond of snarking about, it's very apparent to thinking people that a great deal of the SCLM political narrative is just plain fiction.

i define civic engagement as asserting power within the political system. voting, organizing a lobby, participating in public discussions about policy, etc. people sitting on their butts, watching tweety or beck or whomever, are not really engaging in anything but the destruction of some brain cells. you're right to note that there is an 'advantage' for republicans contained in the data from this survey. it reflects the fact that they are reaching a greater share of their audience. i also agree that dems could do much, much better. i don't think trying to change the SCLM from the inside, or whatever, is a smart strategy for dems; i often and strongly object to the new media and far left raising lots of money to give to candidates who turn around and spend it on the SCLM. but that's mostly because i've written off the aging, right of center, older white male and fundie populations. i believe we win by focusing on the young, who as another poster discussed in a previous thread, have a growing radical element with little patience for old media assumptions.  


Dpn't be so quick (4.00 / 1)
In the last month or so I've seen evidence that at least some of the older set is turning left.  Anecdotal evidence to be sure.  We had a contractor (who used to build houses but now filled in with some handyman work) come to the house.His wife (she was 63) had just died suddenly.  His helper (who must have been pushing 70) said the cause of death was lack of insurance.  She was reluctant to see a doctor.  He "was lucky" because he had Medicare.  Definitely radicalized.  Another handyman said his wife lost her long term job.  The man used to be very Republican.  After the obligatory short Obama screed he blamed Bush.  At some length.

Otoh, the guy who runs the local hardware store/lumber yard (not Home Depot) is a tea-bagger with hand made signs by the register.  I don't know how old Walter is but I'd guess late 60s.

So there's anecdotal evidence that the older folks are paying more attention but also anecdotal evidence that some are turning left.


Rep. Mark Kirk brings in $$$ from the "Retired" industry (0.00 / 0)
From OpenSecrets, Kirk (IL-10) received $535,775 from retired Republican donors in the 2008 cycle. He is elected from a high-wealth district, and this report showing that men follow the news more closely than women may be a factor. Assuming that the news followers act on what they read, the retired men no doubt have more disposable income to donate to campaigns. For comparison, Mark Kirk came in third among congressional candidates in 2008, behind #1 Ron Paul and #2 Mark Udall.

Now that he is running for the Senate, Kirk has raised $1.3 million thus far in 2009-2010, with $141,350 from Retired, #1 in the Industry category.


And what exactly counts as "news" (0.00 / 0)
for the purposes of this survey, Glenn Beck?

Infotainment shows, even ones like Olberman whose ideological committments I share somewhat, don't amount to journalism in my reckoning.  


Of course Republicans watch a lot of news... (4.00 / 1)
...if they didn't get a copious supply of paranoid misinformation from Fox, how could they possibly remain Republicans?

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