June 12, 2012

Economy, Election Are Public’s Top Stories

Conflict Between Vatican, U.S. Nuns Draws Little Catholic Interest


The public continued to track news about the economy and the presidential election, while paying less attention to another important political story – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in a hard-fought recall election.

The latest weekly News Interest Index, conducted June 7-10 among 1,000 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, finds that 35% say they followed reports about U.S. economic conditions very closely while 30% tracked news about the presidential election very closely.

The public expressed less interest in news about the Wisconsin recall election (21% very closely), European economic problems (18%) and the CIA killing of an al Qaeda leader in a drone strike in Pakistan (16%).

The Wisconsin recall election attracted more interest among Republicans (31% very closely) than Democrats or independents (20% each).

Just 6% of Americans say they very closely followed news about recent conflicts between the Vatican and U.S. nuns. Fewer than one-in-five (14%) followed this story either very or fairly closely; 84% say they followed this news not too closely or not at all closely.

Even among Catholics, this story attracted little interest. In fact, nearly identical percentages of Catholics (16%), Protestants (14%) and the religiously unaffiliated (14%) paid very close attention to the conflicts between the Vatican and American nuns. White Catholics are somewhat more interested than are white Protestants (22% very closely vs. 13% very closely).

These findings are based on the most recent installment of the weekly News Interest Index, an ongoing project of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, building on the Center’s longstanding research into public attentiveness to major news stories.