Los Angeles has done its part to offer some post-election therapy for the political junkies among us and those suffering from PEWS. The Pat Brown Institute had their full-day program last week and the USC Unruh Institute of Politics has their 2-day conference today and tomorrow (Joel Fox, Joe Mathews and Tom Elias are seated in front of me as I write this while Jim VanderHei of POLITICO moderates a panel of eight). Nevertheless, the hoi polloi have gone from smitten to c'est la vie.Post-Election, The Audience Drifts Away
Staff Writer - Washington Post
Friday, November 21, 2008; C01
Americans became smitten with the high drama of the presidential election, but the transition of power is proving less than sexy.
Ratings for cable TV news and the number of visits to news Web sites built for weeks and then peaked on Election Day, giving the electronic media some of their biggest audiences in years. But since then, TV ratings and online traffic have fallen -- in many cases precipitously -- indicating that viewers and visitors have largely quenched their thirst for political news.
The ratings rise and fall suggest that the suspense and conflict of the campaign's closing days made for a far better story than the aftermath of President-elect Barack Obama's victory and the beginnings of his administration. The lone exception was broadcast news, which has held relatively steady through November.
The most pronounced declines were in traffic at popular news Web sites, which saw a steady increase for months. The tide crested as Americans went to the polls; MSNBC.com, which has been the most popular news site for several months, had 25.1 million unique visitors during the week of the election (it also reported 471 million page views on Election Day -- a record for the site).
Since then, millions of visitors have gone elsewhere, according to Nielsen Online. MSNBC.com's traffic declined by 25 percent, or by 6.4 million unique visitors, from its election week peak. Yahoo News lost 5.2 million unique visitors (21 percent). CNN.com, which scored the most traffic during the week of the election, deflated most of all, losing one-third of its 26.9 million visitors in the post-election week.
The story was similar for the cable news networks, which for months devoted huge swaths of their airtime to politics. Viewing of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC peaked during the week of the election. Fox News, in fact, became the most popular cable network of any kind in prime time for two weeks running, beating not just its cable news rivals but also the cable entertainment networks USA and TNT.
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