Election interest hit 20-year high

Survey: Registered voters were glued to the news

NEW YORK -- On the eve of what could be record election turnout, interest last weekend in campaign-related news hit a 20-year high.

Sixty percent of registered voters were viewing campaign news very closely with another 28% saying they were following fairly closely, the Pew Research Center said Thursday. It was the highest in the 20 years that Pew has been tracking voter appetite for election news.

Pew said the top stories for the final week of the campaign included Joe the Plumber, a surge in early voting and negative campaigning. Ohio's Joe Wurzelbacher, who was brought up in the final debate, at Hofstra on Oct. 15, was cited by 55% of the people in the survey. Fifty-four percent of people said they also saw a lot of coverage about the lines for early voting.

Pew also said that among all the campaign-related news events since 2007, the most noted event by people queried in the survey was Obama's June win of the Democratic primary after a grueling battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton. Seventy-three percent of those polled told Pew that they had heard a lot in the media about it; the next was the pregnancy of Gov. Sarah Palin's teenage daughter, with 69%.