The Pew Research Center for People and the Press offers a clue today into why the battle in Washington to raise the debt ceiling ended up with a deficit-reduction deal that would just cut spending with no increase in taxes. Those who wanted budget cuts paid the most attention. In the last week in July, the story accounted for 47% of the news coverage in newspapers, TV, radio and the Internet; that was appropriate at a time when 41% of all adults considered it the most riveting development according to Pew’s weekly survey of public interest in the news. But if you look more closely, you’ll find that 66% of Republicans and supporters of the Tea Party closely tracked the budget negotiations vs 34% of those who held different views or had no opinion. What’s more, about 20% of the Tea Party supporters contacted an elected official. Only 5% of those who disagreed with the group did so. Interestingly, young people — who had the most at stake in the debate — were least motivated to try to influence the outcome. Only 19% of adults between 18 and 29 followed the story closely and 1% contacted an elected official. By contrast, about 54% of people over 50 kept up with the budget debate with 16% contacting an official. Pew’s findings come from a telephone poll of about 1,000 adults (including both landline and cell customers) and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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