Americans are tuning out politics news ahead of 2024 election
Engagement with political news and news generally is down considerably compared to the last presidential primary election cycle, as Americans continue to funnel their attention toward lighter topics, like sports and entertainment.
Why it matters: Record news interest last presidential election cycle, while bolstered by the onset of the pandemic, helped lead to the highest voter turnout in the 21st century — and near-record numbers among younger voters.
Be smart: In this election cycle, while former President Trump and President Biden still take a considerable share of overall news interest, attention is flowing more to a wider set of storylines outside of the election and hard news.
- The Israel-Hamas war has been the major exception.
- Donald Trump's indictments helped boost cable ratings marginally last year, but the novelty of those cases has worn off heading into the primary.
Details: Fewer people are reading news and political articles this cycle compared to last, according to data from Similarweb.
- Cable news ratings are also down considerably between November 2023 and January 2024 compared to November 2019 through January 2020, although one additional factor is that fewer households are paying for cable subscriptions now than four years ago.
- Social media interactions with political debates and town halls have also waned significantly, per data from NewsWhip.
Yes, but: NewsWhip acknowledges that engagement may have shifted from platforms like Instagram, Facebook and X to other platforms, such as TikTok, that are less suitable for links to news sites.
Between the lines: Debates and political town halls are struggling to capture America's attention, pushing networks to pivot.
- The fifth Republican primary debate this month drew just 2.5 million viewers, while Trump's competing town hall averaged 4.3 million viewers, Axios' Erin Doherty notes.
- Ratings for the previous four debates were also down considerably compared to the 2020 primary, thanks largely to Trump's absence from the stage.