They don't care much for either Donald Trump of Hillary Clinton, but there is the most interest in the 2016 presidential election in 24 years and three out of four voters believe that "it really matters" who wins, according to a new survey.
Pew Research Service said in a report issued Thursday that voter engagement in the campaign is the highest it has seen since it began testing interest.
Some 80 percent said that they have thought about the election, even higher than in 2008, when 72 percent said the same thing about Barack Obama's election as the first-ever black president.
But it said voter satisfaction with the candidates is at its lowest.
And 74 percent said "it really matters" who wins when it comes to changing the direction of the nation.
A remarkable 85 percent of voters told Pew that are following the election closely, and, said the analysis, "six-in-ten now report that they are more interested in politics than they were four years ago."
In the head-to-head matchup, Clinton leads Trump 51 percent to 42 percent.
Among the survey's key findings from the Pew release:
— Republicans remain skeptical that their party will unite behind their presumptive nominee. Just 38% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say the party will "solidly unite" behind Trump; 54% say disagreements in the party will keep many Republicans from supporting him. These views are virtually unchanged since March, amid the GOP primary contest. By contrast, 72% of Democratic voters say their party will solid unite behind Clinton; in March, 64% expected their party to unite behind Clinton if she became the nominee.
— Economy and terrorism are top issues for voters in 2016. When it comes to the issues at the forefront of voters' minds, the economy tops the list, with 84% of voters – and similar shares across most demographic and political groups – saying it is very important to their vote. About as many (80%) say the issue of terrorism will be very important to their vote.
— Young voters highly engaged, but unhappy with choices. Nearly three-quarters of voters younger than 30 (74%) say they have given quite a lot of thought to the election, which is higher than at this point in 2012 (59%). But only about a quarter of young people (23%) are satisfied with their choices for president. At this point in both 2012 and 2008, more than twice as many voters younger than 30 said they were satisfied with their candidate choices (60% in 2012, 68% in 2008).
— Clinton has advantages on qualifications, judgment, not honesty. Clinton is widely viewed as more personally qualified and possessing better judgment than Trump. However, neither candidate has an advantage on honesty: 40% say the phrase "honest and truthful" better describes Clinton, 37% say it applies more to Trump and 20% volunteer that it better describes neither candidate.
— Trump viewed as candidate of 'change,' not necessarily for the better. Fully 77% of voters say Trump would change the way things work in Washington, compared with just 45% who say the same about Clinton. But more voters say Trump would change things for the worse than for the better (44% vs. 33%). A quarter of voters say Clinton would change Washington for the worse, while 20% say she would change things for the better.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org