New Poll Finds Nearly 8 in 10 Americans "Frustrated" by Tone of Political Campaigns

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7/24/2012

Vast majorities say problem is getting worse and is harmful to country’s political process

Highlighting the angst of the American electorate over negative campaigning and personal attacks, a new Knights of Columbus-Marist poll finds that the public is increasingly frustrated with the tone of political campaigns and sees the problem getting worse.

The July 2012 survey also found that a strong consensus of Americans believes such negative campaigning is ultimately harmful to the political process.

Nearly 8 in 10 Americans (78 percent) say they are “frustrated” by the tone of political campaigns. Almost three-quarters say the problem is getting worse: 74 percent believe that the tone of political campaigns has “gotten more negative” than in past election years.

In addition, two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) believe candidates spend more time criticizing their opponents than addressing the issues, while almost as many (64 percent) say negative campaign ads “harm the political process” either “a great deal” or “a significant amount.”

And by a nearly 20 point margin (56 to 37 percent), the public says the tone of political campaigns is “mostly uncivil and disrespectful.” That number grows to 59 percent among registered voters.

“The American people want and deserve civility and a conversation on the issues rather than the personal vilification of political opponents,” said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “As this current data makes all too clear, the American people want a political discussion that is civil and respectful. As Americans, we understand that we may not agree on every aspect of every issue, but we also understand that how we disagree says a great deal about who we are as a nation.”

Anderson’s 2010 book “Beyond a House Divided” chronicled previous surveys that showed a broad dissatisfaction concerning the political process among the American people, while finding that on many issues, there is far more unanimity of opinion among the public than is generally acknowledged.

The telephone survey of 1,010 adults was conducted from July 9, 2012 through July 11, 2012. It has a margin of error within +/- 3.0 percentage points.