Feb 22, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Democrats tune out national news during Biden era

Percentage of Americans who pay "a great deal" of attention to the news, by political affiliation
Reproduced from Gallup/Knight Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new poll from Gallup and the Knight Foundation finds that younger Democrats are driving a huge decline in national news consumption in the U.S.

Why it matters: It marks the first time since the study began in early 2018 that Democrats report having less interest in national news than Republicans and independents.

Details: While respondents across the political spectrum all reported a decline in interest in national news over the past year, Democrats' interest has declined the most, with just 34% saying they paid a great deal of attention to national news in 2021, compared to 69% in November 2020.

  • The decline among Democrats ages 18-34 is staggering. Roughly a quarter (24%) said they paid a great deal of attention to national news in 2021, compared to 70% in November 2020. Those ages 35-54 also tuned out significantly.
  • Independents that lean Democrat are also paying less attention to national news than Independents that lean Republican, the survey found.

Be smart: Partisans generally tend to tune in more to national news when the opposing party is in office, according to Gallup.

  • But in this case, anxiety about the state of affairs during the Trump era, and specifically 2020, may have driven Democrats to consume an outsized amount of national news.
  • Similarly, news fatigue following the pandemic and a chaotic election year is forcing Republicans to tune out more than expected.
  • Instead of consuming more news during the Biden Administration, the data shows a marginal decline in interest in national news from Republicans.
  • Many right-wing outlets have seen traffic declines during Biden Administration, likely due to overall news fatigue, as Axios has previously reported.

The big picture: Overall, the study found that fewer Americans are paying attention to national news "than at any time since early 2018."

  • Last month, Axios reported that news engagement fell off a cliff in 2021, citing significant declines in viewership across digital, television and social media.
  • National news attention peaked in March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, and again in November 2020, during the presidential election.

Yes, but: While interest in national news has declined significantly, the percentage of Americans who said they pay "a great deal" of attention to local or international news, has remained consistent year-over-year.

Go deeper