POLITICS

Finding It Hard To Keep Up With The News? You're In The Minority.

Just a third of politically engaged Americans say they're finding this year unusually overwhelming.

How much news can possibly happen in just over a week? Here’s an incomplete recap of very recent headlines, courtesy of Wired magazine:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilians in an attack killed 80 people, many of them children, and President Trump ordered an airstrike in retaliation. Representative Devin Nunes recused himself from the House investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Presidential advisor Steve Bannon lost his seat on the National Security Council and presidential advisor Jared Kushner forgot to mention a meeting with the Russian ambassador. Senate Republicans nuked the filibuster to get Neil Gorsuch a seat on the Supreme Court. Twitter sued the government to protect the privacy of an anonymous account, and then the government caved. Oh, and Pepsi outraged everyone with a tone-deaf ad starring Kendall Jenner.

If all that seems like a lot to take in ― well, you’re in the minority, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

The idea that recent news cycles have become uniquely grueling has taken hold in much of the media. “It feels as if we are living in a Superconducting Super Collider of news, with information bombarding us at a head-spinning velocity,” The New York Times’ Christopher Mele wrote in February.

But among respondents who say they generally try to stay informed on what’s happening in politics, just 30 percent say that they feel political news is changing so quickly that they can’t keep up. Sixty percent say they don’t have any problems doing so.

A couple of caveats: One, respondents may feel it’s socially desirable to claim that they’re effortlessly well-informed. And two, even people who find it intellectually easy to keep up with what’s happening in the news may still feel an emotional toll from doing so.

Still, most people don’t see the current news environment as posing a special challenge. While 27 percent of those who follow the news say it’s harder to keep up with politics than in past years, a nearly equal share, 25 percent, say it’s gotten easier. Another 40 percent say they haven’t noticed much of a change.

Ann Crigler, a political science professor at the University of South California, suggested that the constant flow of news may actually make current events feel more accessible than ever, with Americans able to pick their own trusted media sources to follow along.

“While it may seem like it’s overwhelming and confusing, people tend to choose what they rely on,” she said.

Older Americans are less likely than younger ones to feel overwhelmed. Seventy percent of Americans over 65 who try to keep up with politics say they have no problems doing so, compared to just half of politically engaged Americans under age 45.

Being on the winning team also seems to help. Seventy-two percent of Trump voters who try to keep up with political news say they don’t have any problems doing so, compared to 58 percent of politically engaged Clinton voters and 48 percent of those who didn’t vote in the 2016 election.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted March 29 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls.You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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