A lot has been made in this election year about the "enthusiasm gap" between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to interest and intention to vote in the midterm elections, with Republicans enjoying as much as a 2-to-1 advantage
by some measures.
But apparently, the lesser enthusiasm among Democrats in this year of grim forecasts for the party extends to reading, watching or listening to the news.
In 2008, when the force was flowing for presidential candidate Barack Obama and other Democrats running for office, 67 percent of liberal Democrats said they enjoyed the news "a lot," a number that now has fallen to 45 percent, according to a Pew Research Center survey
on the media based on data collected in June. Fifty-eight percent of self-described conservative and moderate Democrats said they enjoyed the news in 2008, a number that is now down to 46 percent.
Pew did not inquire into the reasons. Maybe it is something in the make-up of Democrats compared to Republicans, because the percentage of conservatives who say they enjoy the news was about the same in 2008 (56 percent) when their side took its drubbing as it is today (57 percent).
The study said that cable news continues to play a significant role when it comes to where most people get their news, with 39 percent saying they get it from a cable channel.
But the new figures show some marked shifts since 2002 when it comes to the winners and losers among the cable and broadcast networks in the battle for viewers, with Fox News coming out on top.
In 2002, CNN led the pack with 25 percent, followed by Fox at 22 percent, NBC at 20 percent, ABC and CBS tied at 18 percent and MSNBC at 15 percent.
Now, Fox is ahead with 23 percent, CNN has fallen to 18 percent, ABC is at 14 percent, NBC at 12 percent, MSNBC at 11 percent and CBS scraping bottom at 8 percent.
Pew says that Fox is the only one of the outlets to maintain its audience size because of the increasing number of Republicans who regularly get news there. Forty percent of Republicans say they regularly watch Fox News, up from 36 percent two years ago and just 18 percent a decade ago.
CNN draws just 12 percent of Republicans and MSNBC, with news personalities like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow being its answer to Fox's Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, attracts just 6 percent of Republican viewers. In 2002, Republicans were about as likely to watch CNN (28 percent) as Fox (25 percent).
Unsurprisingly, Obama gets his highest approval ratings among regular viewers of Olbermann (84 percent approve) and Maddow (80 percent approve), but he also does almost as well with readers of The New York Times (79 percent approve).
His lowest ratings come from Hannity regulars (7 percent approval) and listeners to Rush Limbaugh (9 percent approval).
Some other observations from the Pew report about online, social networking and mobile device habits:
- Search engines are playing a substantially larger role in people's news gathering habits with 33 percent regularly using them to get news on topics of interest, up from 19 percent in 2008.
- Most Facebook and Twitter users say they hardly ever or never get news there.
- Thirty-one percent access the Internet over their cell phone, but just 8 percent get news there.
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