Conventions To Draw Fewer Viewers Than in Past Years, Survey Shows

The number of people who don't plan to watch the upcoming political conventions has nearly doubled from the number who didn't watch in 1996, according to a recent poll by the Vanishing Voter Project at the Kennedy School of Government.

Four years ago, only 23 percent of voters said they did not plan to watch any of the GOP convention, while 21 percent said they did not plan to watch the Democratic convention.

This year, however, those numbers have skyrocketed to 43 percent and 38 percent, respectively.

In a related poll released Wednesday, only 19 percent of voters nationwide were able to say when the GOP convention would be held.

"There seems to be less interest in this election campaign compared to past campaigns," said Tami S. Buhr, the research coordinator for the Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

"This is consistent with a growing and continuing disconnect between the people and democratic politics and process," said Marvin Kalb, co-director of the Vanishing Voter project, in a press release.

The conventions will also receive less network attention this year than they have in the past. ABC and CBS will each carry five hours of live primetime convention coverage, while NBC will televise only the last two nights for two and a half hours of total coverage.

"The convention audience this year, as in the past, will be a combination of those viewers who went to their televisions intending to watch the convention and those viewers who turned on their sets and just happened to catch it," said Bradlee Professor of Government Thomas Patterson in a press release.