This year's elections are more popular with Americans than Fox's "American Idol."
At least that's the headline on a release from the University of Pennsylvania heralding a survey of more than 20,000 adults by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. The survey results find that 78 percent of respondents say they're following the horse race either very closely or somewhat closely. For comparison, in 2004 some 57 percent expressed the same sentiment (although the question was restricted to the Democrats, since an incumbent 43 had the GOP nomination in the bag).
And as far as the "Idol" speculation, it topped last week's ratings, says Nielsen, with 24.8 million viewers. Even if they were all (chronologically) adults, which is patently untrue, the back of the handiest envelope suggests that's about 11 percent of the nation's over-18s.
"Political scholars often worry that Americans do not pay enough attention to politics," according to the University of Arizona's Kate Kenski, a senior analyst for the survey quoted by Penn. " This campaign season has demonstrated that competitive races with the right candidates can trigger interest. The percentage of Americans paying close attention to the presidential campaign increased from mid-December to the beginning of February, and it has remained high ever since."
"Idol" still has some key demographics, though. Older respondents, for example, are following the election more closely than young'uns (c'mon, the Obama effect can't cure all ills), and we all know old folks don't rise to Hollywood's notice. Helping the election's movie-deal prospects, however, are that rich people and city folk are more attentive, and advertisers like them.