What will the 2012 election look like if the public is dreading it?

I saw the results of a recent Gallup poll that suggests Americans are not looking forward to the 2012 election:

With the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses serving as the kickoff of voting in the 2012 presidential election campaign, Americans would likely prefer to fast-forward to the end of the campaign than watch it unfold. Given a choice, 70% of Americans say they can’t wait for the campaign to be over, while 26% can’t wait for it to begin…

Nationally, there is little difference by party in feelings about the upcoming campaign — 67% of Democrats and 66% of Republicans can’t wait for the campaign to be over…

The greatest differences in feelings toward the campaign are by age. Senior citizens, who have seen more presidential elections than younger Americans, are least likely to be looking forward to the campaign, with 16% saying they can’t wait for it to begin. That compares with 27% or more of those in each of the younger age groups…

Importantly, despite their generally negative feelings toward the campaign, Americans are not necessarily going to tune it out completely, or decline to participate. The same poll finds that 57% of Americans have already given “quite a lot” of thought to the upcoming election, and 72% are at least somewhat enthusiastic about voting in next year’s election.

Several thoughts come to mind:

1. Does this make independent voters more important than ever as most people aren’t looking forward to it plus you already have a majority who has spent a lot of time thinking about it (and has made up their minds?)? Walmart moms, be prepared.

2. If you are the manager of a major candidate, what sort of campaign do you run? How do you not anger people or turn them off but also reach them? Might we get some innovative strategies to deal with this? Will people even respond positively to candidates who run against the system/current politicians/as outsiders to Washington?

3. Pundits like to suggest that Americans should be more involved in politics and exercise their right to vote. This poll, and others, suggest a number of Americans are dissatisfied with the actors and/or the system. How will this tension be resolved? More or better civics classes are not the answer.

4. Gallup doesn’t suggest this but could this dread be related to geographic area and wealth? One analysis suggests the majority of big campaign donations are coming from just a few areas around and in big cities.

5. It would be nice to have some context for this story. In recent history (in the post-World War II era), how often have Americans been really excited about upcoming elections?

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