Poll: 2012 campaign had more mudslinging, less substance

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Despite an overall disappointment with the campaign, voters did seem happy with their choice of candidates. A full seven in 10 voters said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the choice between President Obama and Mitt Romney, higher than any election since the poll began in 1988. Only 28 percent said they were dissatisfied, lower than any election save the 2000 showdown between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

Even 52 percent of Romney supporters said they were satisfied with the choice in candidates, despite the Republican nominee's loss to Obama.

One area of the campaign that did get high marks: the debates. Two-thirds of voters said they found the direct back-and-forths to be informative, compared to less than a quarter of voters who said the same about campaign advertisements. Still, a full third of Democrats and two in 10 independents say commercials were helpful in making their decision to vote.

Voters are also not particularly optimistic about the president's second term. Only 56 percent of those surveyed expect it to be successful, lagging behind similar surveys conducted before his first term or the second terms of Presidents Clinton and Bush. Obama was also less likely to elicit feelings of hope or pride relative to the aftermath of the 2008 election.

Republicans asked to evaluate their party's performance in the wake of their election losses were twice as likely to say leaders should move in a conservative direction than toward the center. But Democrats took the opposite lesson away from Election Day: 55 percent of Obama voters think Democratic leaders should become centrist, while 35 percent say the president and top Democrats should pull the agenda to the left.