PRINCETON, NJ -- Although only one candidate can win Tuesday's presidential election, both major-party candidates may be gratified to know that majorities of Americans are satisfied with how each campaign has been conducted. Fifty-eight percent of Americans are satisfied with the conduct of Barack Obama's campaign, and 54% are satisfied with the conduct of Mitt Romney's.
Americans' satisfaction with Obama's 2012 campaign falls short of the 66% of Americans who praised his 2008 campaign. That is the highest level of public satisfaction with a presidential campaign for either party in Gallup trends since 2000. At 58%, Obama's current campaign is more positively reviewed than John Kerry's was in 2004 (at that time, 51% were satisfied), but similar to Al Gore's in 2000 (61%).
Romney has improved markedly on John McCain's subpar performance on this measure in 2008, when a record-low 40% were satisfied with how his campaign had been conducted. The 54% currently satisfied with Romney's campaign is on par with the levels recorded for George W. Bush's campaigns in 2004 (55%) and 2000 (58%).
To some extent, this question may reflect the candidates' standing in the polls or, more broadly, public perceptions of who is winning. In 2000, 2004, and today, the candidate perceived as more likely to win the election also edged out his opponent in public satisfaction with how the campaigns were being conducted, in contemporaneous polling. However, in all three of these elections, there was still some doubt about who would win, with no more than 56% of Americans predicting one candidate as the likely winner. Perhaps as a result, no more than 61% were satisfied with either campaign.
By contrast, in 2008, 71% of Americans believed Obama would win, perhaps partially explaining the high 66% satisfaction with the conduct of his campaign, and the correspondingly low satisfaction with McCain's.
Neither Campaign Is Rated Significantly Better by Independents
Majorities of independents, a key voting bloc, are satisfied with each campaign: 57% with Obama's and 53% with Romney's. As would be expected, most Democrats (90%) are satisfied with how Obama's campaign has been conducted, and a similarly high proportion of Republicans (89%) are satisfied with how Romney's has performed. Slightly more Democrats are satisfied with Romney's campaign than Republicans are with Obama's, by 28% to 21%.
The decline in overall satisfaction with Obama's campaign since 2008 is the result of significant declines in independents' and Republicans' satisfaction with how the 2012 campaign has been conducted. The increase in satisfaction with the Republican campaign is seen mainly in sizable increases in Democrats', independents', and especially Republicans' ratings of Romney's campaign, compared with their 2008 ratings of McCain's.
Obama and Romney ran nip and tuck in Gallup's trial-heat tracking among registered voters for most of this year, and that parity now extends to how Americans rate the way the two major-party campaigns have been conducted. The similarity in Obama's and Romney's ratings on this measure is analogous to what Gallup found in the 2000 and 2004 elections, but contrasts sharply with 2008, when Obama's campaign was reviewed unusually well, and McCain's unusually poorly. The difference between 2008 and today comes down mainly to reduced satisfaction among Republicans and independents with Obama's campaign, as well as sharply higher satisfaction among Republicans and -- to a lesser degree -- independents and Democrats with Romney's campaign as compared with McCain's.
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Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Oct. 27-28, 2012, with a random sample of 1,063 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.