Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Enough already: With just 288 hours before Election Day, almost two-thirds of the nation is weary of the presidential campaign, according to a Scripps Howard News Service survey released yesterday.

Despite political exhaustion, annoyed voters still plan to go to the polls.

Overall, 61 percent of Americans said they were “tired” of the campaign and would rejoice when it ended. Some are more tired than others, however.

Women are more aggravated than men, 64 percent to 58 percent, respectively. Folks who are more than 65 years old are the weariest of all, at 72 percent.

The survey also found that 68 percent of those who were “very conservative” and 65 percent of “strong Republicans” were ready for Election Day. The figure was 59 percent among both “very liberal” and “strong Democrats,” and 63 percent among “middle of the road” voters.

“I was struck at how universal this fatigue is, though it’s particularly high in places which have a higher concentration of political messages,” said Thomas Hargrove, director of survey research for Scripps Howard. “People are weary of those messages.”

Indeed, the poll found that 71 percent of those who live in 10 battleground states were tired of the campaign, with 91 percent saying they had seen political TV spots from both President Bush and his Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry. Another 71 percent said the ads did not help them understand issues, while more than half said the spots were not “accurate.”

The poll of 1,022 adults was conducted Oct. 3-13.

“Voter fatigue is common in states where they are bombarded by ads where the volume is high and the tone shrill,” said Curtis Gans, director of the District-based Committee for the Study of the American Electorate.

“Yes, they are tired. But they will vote. Tit-for-tat advertising can depress turnout. It won’t this year,” Mr. Gans said.

Mr. Hargrove agreed.

“Voters are far more involved in this election than anything we’ve seen in modern times,” he said. “Voters aren’t saying it doesn’t matter who gets elected anymore.”

That’s reflected in a Gallup poll of 942 registered voters released yesterday. It found that 72 percent said “the outcome of this year’s presidential election matters more to them than in previous years.”

Four years ago, just 47 percent cited the importance of the election; the figure was 41 percent in 1996, according to Gallup.

Others have tracked voter sentiments this year.

A Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll of voters in 15 swing states in early May found that a third of them said they were already “getting too much information about the election.”

Last month, an ABC News survey found that 87 percent of the respondents were following the race closely and were “certain to vote.” An Associated Press poll also found that 87 percent said they were intensely interested in the election, while 91 percent of the respondents in a CBS News poll said they were closely following the campaign and planned to vote.

Voters tire of some things, however.

In the months preceding the 2000 election, 74 percent of respondents in a Pew Research Center poll said they were “tired of all the problems associated with the Clinton administration.”

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