The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

You’re the only one of your eight friends who cares about the midterm elections

A counting staff member yawns as they count ballots during the Scottish Independence Referendum last month. (AP Photo/PA, Andrew Milligan)

You are probably the sort of person who can either a) tell me instantaneously that Election Day is in 27 days or b) could come up with a pretty good guess about how far away it is. Because you're at the Washington Post website, reading an article about a subset of a subset of information about those elections. You like politics, or you hate yourself, or both.

But you are also in a distinct minority. Pew Research's latest survey, completed over the weekend, indicates that only 15 percent of Americans are paying very close attention to the midterm elections -- a number that is both very low and, apparently, significantly lower than the midterms in 2006 and 2010.

As the graph shows, 30 days out from the 2010 elections, more than one-fifth of people said they were watching it closely. Eight years ago, the same. Now? A mopey 15 percent.

Pew offers some theories. Maybe people no longer find big-picture races for the control of Congress to be compelling, after the House switched hands after both of the last two midterms. (Or maybe they don't care about the same thing happening in the Senate.) Maybe, Pew thinks, the abundance of other news -- Ebola and the Islamic State and Ebola as the Islamic State -- is crowding the midterms out of the public's attention. It's hard to say.

Now, if you are like us, which you are (again, since you're reading this), you probably suspect that maybe research finding that about an eighth of the country is paying close attention to the midterms sounds a little ... high. There are people walking the streets of Hollywood who don't know who this "Joe Biden" character is, but one out of every eight people is paying close attention to the midterm elections? That seems a little iffy.

But regardless, the trend line is there. Since we can compare this to Pew data from the past, it's clear that interest is, for whatever reason, lower. Half of registered voters said they've given "quite a lot" of thought to the race, and the level of enthusiasm is about the same.

For Democrats in particular, the not-paying-attention data is bad news. The party needs higher-than-average turnout, particularly in key races, if it wants to hold the Senate. And if people aren't really paying attention, or if they don't know the Senate is in play, they're less likely to do that.

You knew this, though. You're a political junkie. And you're dreading 28 days from now when there's no midterm news at all.