While Election Day is less than four months away, the 2012 presidential campaign has already been on the nation's radar for more than a year, and a new poll shows Americans are not pleased with the course of the race.
Nearly eight in 10 Americans, or 78 percent, say they are "frustrated" by the ongoing political battle, according to a new Knights of Columbus-Marist survey released Tuesday.
About three-quarters of Americans believe this election year is more intense in its negative campaigning than previous years, with 74 percent saying the problem is getting worse.
Meanwhile, roughly two-thirds of Americans, or 66 percent, say candidates have spent more time on the offensive than addressing issues. Nearly the same amount, 64 percent say negative campaign ads "harm the political process" either "a great deal" or "a significant amount."
Americans saw a short break from the political back-and-forth this weekend, as both campaigns paused in the aftermath of the massacre at an Aurora, Colo., movie theatre.
However, the sparring got back under way on Monday, as both political teams resumed their daily attack strategies through press releases, campaign appearances and interviews.
Millions have been poured into negative ads this cycle, both from campaigns and outside spending groups. And while Obama frequently blasts Republicans for waging a tsunami of attack ads against him, Romney's team points out that the president's campaign has outspent Romney in TV advertising since he became the presumptive GOP nominee in April.
At a campaign event in Austin last week, Obama repeated a line he uses frequently, warning the crowd to avoid listening to the "scary voices" in negative ads launched against him.
"I will say that there's going to be about - well, who knows how much money is going to be spent. We've got folks writing $10 million checks, running negative ads with scary voices," he said.
July has seen an onslaught of attack ads on the airwaves, with Obama's campaign hammering Romney over his tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, as well as his offshore investments.
Meanwhile, Romney's campaign has been hitting back, releasing a stream of ads calling into question Obama's record of job creation, broken campaign promises and negative campaign tactics.
Asked Monday about the tone of the race moving forward after the Colorado shooting, Romney said he expects it to have a level of "seriousness."
"We're starting also with a level of thoughtfulness and seriousness that I think is appropriate in the aftermath of a tragedy of this nature," Romney said Monday in a CNBC interview.
The survey was conducted by telephone with 1,010 adults from July 9 through July 11. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.