It’s the middle of summer and months before the first vote is cast, yet polls confirm what the political cognoscenti suspect: most Americans are already tuning into the presidential election.

More than two-thirds of respondents in a New York Times/CBS News poll earlier this month said they were paying at least some attention to the 2008 presidential campaign. That is up substantially from this time four years ago, when 4 in 10 Americans were paying attention.

Attention is higher now than it was in July 2003 among both men and women and across all age groups. As was the case four years ago, older respondents are more likely to be engaged.

Still, attention among younger Americans is up considerably: 36 percent of those under age 30 were paying attention to the election at this point four years ago; 65 percent of them are now.

Attention among Democrats increased more than it did among Republicans (polls have shown that Democrats are much more satisfied with their party’s presidential candidates than Republicans are).

More than 7 in 10 Democrats are now engaged in the campaign, compared with just over 4 in 10 in 2003. That compares with two-thirds of Republicans who are now paying attention, up from about half.