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Gallup Poll: Americans View Upcoming Political Conventions as Important But Boring

Aired July 20, 2000 - 1:33 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: Will those conventions be eye-openers or snoozers? A look now at what you're thinking as we prepare for Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll, has his finger on the pulse of Americans. And, as always, he joins us from Princeton, New Jersey.

Hi, Frank.

FRANK NEWPORT, GALLUP POLL EDITOR IN CHIEF: Hello, Andria. Kind of some good news and bad news in terms of whether or not people will be snoozing during the conventions.

Let's show you what we have. We asked in our last weekend's poll about Americans' perceptions of the conventions in general. We have to go right to the boring column here: 70 percent say they're boring and only 38 percent say they're entertaining, so you might say they will be snoozing. But we do know that Americans still think conventions have a place in society: 68 percent say they're informative and 66 percent say they're good for democracy.

Some interesting differences by age here. This is a different question which says, do conventions still serve a purpose, or should we get rid of them. This is the positive percent. Notice younger Americans more likely to say they still serve a purpose. As you get older, you're less likely to think so, probably because you're comparing them back to the old days when conventions really did have a nominating purpose, at any rate.

But the second line that we just put on there is the percent of Americans who will be watching the Republican convention. And note here that younger Americans, despite thinking that they have a purpose, are less likely to say they'll watch. As you go up, you get older Americans more likely to say they'll watch. In general, however, less than half of all Americans, regardless of age, say that they're going to watch at least some of the Republican convention -- not a huge number.

One reason people may not be watching as much is they're not entertaining, as we showed you. Particularly, younger Americans, 18 to 29, seeking entertainment from television tell us, as you can see in this graph over at the left, they're not going to be find it at the conventions -- Andria.

HALL: Frank, you talked about the percentages: 70 percent say they're boring and 38 percent say they are entertaining. But what about this perception of importance? Did you do numbers on that?

NEWPORT: Yes, and importance, interestingly, Andria, has changed over time. In 1992, when we last asked the question before the convention, actually, a lower number said the conventions still serve a purpose in society. So even though they may be boring, more Americans, interestingly, now than a few years ago, think these conventions will be important. Maybe that's because Perot and some other things were kind of putting a more negative cast on all politics back in 1992.

HALL: Frank Newport in Princeton, as always, we thank you for the insights.

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