As this marathon election campaign roles on, we are told that people are switching off and are bored — but it seems some of us feel a bit guilty about our disinterest.

In today’s Essential report, a collective 45% of respondents had “very little” to “no interest at all” in news about the election and policies, with only 14% saying they had “a lot of interest” (and quite a few don’t know when the election date is). However, in some cases, even the low number of people who do report being engaged might be a stretch.

Some 22% of respondents stated they had watched one of the leadership debates so far. But a quick glance at the numbers raises a few questions. If 22% of people had watched the debates, that would mean blockbuster viewing figures of roughly 3.3 million people. But as Crikey reported at the time, a piffling 55,000 people tuned in on May 13 for Shorten and Turnbull’s first debate on Sky. While their second bout on the ABC attracted a comparatively generous 888,000 viewers, even if we assume not a single person watched both, the collective figures aren’t a third of what the Essential response would imply. Maybe this week Essential caught a particularly engaged set of voters, or maybe those polled feel a bit guilty about their actual level of engagement. Or, perhaps when responding to a survey in which they rate the parties, their leaders and their major policies, people are loath to admit that they aren’t really paying attention.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey