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The Internet's Role in the 2010 Midterm Elections


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The Internet's Role in the 2010 Midterm Elections

  1. 1. The State of the Internet and Politics, 2010Overview of Pew Internet Project ResearchDCI GroupApril 14, 2011<br />
  2. 2. About the Pew Internet & American Life Project<br />Funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts<br />Part of the Pew Research Center, a non-partisan “fact tank” in Washington, DC<br />Study of how technology is shaping society and individuals<br />Provide high quality, objective data to thought leaders and policy makers<br />Do not promote specific technologies or make policy recommendations<br />Our research is based on nationally representative telephone surveys of:<br />Adults 18+ (teens data based on 12-17 year olds)<br />Drawn from dual-frame (landline + cell) samples<br />Includes Spanish-language interviews<br />4/14/2011<br />2<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  3. 3. Key takeaways from our 2010 research<br />More than half of all adults took part in info seeking or political action using online tools in the 2010 midterms, and the internet continues to grow as a source of political news<br />“If you’re on, you’re in”. Interest in politics + access to basic social media tools = engagement via social media (regardless of age or political affiliation)<br />As in other venues (e.g. health, general news consumption) we see a reliance on “people like me” to help evaluate info and make decisions<br />Led by young adults, mobile politics began to play a more prominent role<br />4/14/2011<br />3<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  4. 4. The Big Numbers: 73 and 54<br />73% of internet users (representing 54% of all adults) went online to get news or information about the 2010 midterm elections, or to get involved in the campaign in one way or another<br />This includes anyone who did one or more of the following:<br />Get political news online – 58% of online adults looked online for news about politics or the 2010 campaigns, and 32% of online adults got most of their 2010 campaign news from online sources.<br />Go online to take part in specific political activities, such as watch political videos, share election-related content or “fact check” political claims – 53% of adult internet users did at least one of the eleven online political activities we measured in 2010.<br />Use Twitter or social networking sites for political purposes – One in five online adults (22%) used Twitter or a social networking site for political purposes in 2010<br />4/14/2011<br />4<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  5. 5. Themes for 2010: As we see every year, the internet’s role in politics is “bigger but different”<br />
  6. 6. The relative value of the internet to politically active citizens is increasing<br />4/14/2011<br />6<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  7. 7. Use of online sources is up significantly among nearly all groups since 2002<br />4/14/2011<br />7<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  8. 8. The relative value of the internet to politically active citizens is increasing<br />% of internet users who get political news online<br />4/14/2011<br />8<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  9. 9. Americans hold conflicting views about the internet’s impact<br />Majorities of internet users agree with the following statements:<br />“The internet makes it easier to connect with others who share their views politically” (esp. Latinos, political social networkers, young adults)<br />“The internet increases the influence of those with extreme political views” (esp. Democrats & Tea Party detractors, no major political tech differences)<br />“The internet exposes people to a wider range of political views than they can get in the traditional news media” (esp. political social networkers, those younger than 50, college grads)<br />“It is usually difficult for them to tell what is true from what is not true when it comes to the political information they find online.” (declines with online political engagement)<br />4/14/2011<br />9<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  10. 10. Increasing reliance on “people like me” for political information<br />4/14/2011<br />10<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  11. 11. Themes for 2010: The changing face of politically-engaged social networkers<br />
  12. 12. This is where I point out that you have to view the internet in the broader political context<br />2008: “Hey Dad, check out my profile on”<br />2010: “Son, I need you to get off the computer so I can see if there are any Facebookupdates from my Tea Party Patriots group”<br />4/14/2011<br />12<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  13. 13. How voters used social networking sites and Twitter in 2010<br />35% of social networking site users (21% of online adults) used these sites for political reasons in 2010<br />Discover who friends voted for (18%)<br />Get campaign/candidate info (14%)<br />Post content related to campaign (13%)<br />Friend a candidate or other political group (11%)<br />Join a political group or cause (10%)<br />Start their own political group or cause (2%)<br />28% of Twitter users (2% of online adults) used Twitter politically in 2010<br />Get candidate/campaign info (16%)<br />Follow election results in real time (12%)<br />Follow a candidate or other political group (11%)<br />Include links to political content in their own tweets (9%)<br />4/14/2011<br />13<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  14. 14. Older adults: less likely to use SNS in general, but just as active once they get there<br />4/14/2011<br />14<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  15. 15. To the extent older adults used these sites, they were as active as younger users<br />4/14/2011<br />15<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  16. 16. Partisan splits from 2008 vanished in 2010<br />4/14/2011<br />16<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  17. 17. Partisan splits from 2008 vanished in 2010<br />4/14/2011<br />17<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  18. 18. Partisan splits from 2008 vanished in 2010<br />4/14/2011<br />18<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  19. 19. Partisan splits from 2008 vanished in 2010<br />4/14/2011<br />19<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  20. 20. Social media = “Faster and More Connected”<br />4/14/2011<br />20<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  21. 21. Themes for 2010: The emergence of mobile politics<br />
  22. 22. Mobile politics<br />26% of all American adults used their cell phones for political purposes in 2010:<br />14% used their cell phones to tell others that they voted<br />12% used their cell phones to keep up with news about the election or politics<br />10% sent text messages relating to the election to friends, family members and others<br />6% used their cells to let others know about conditions at their local voting stations on election day<br />4% used their phones to monitor results of the election as they occurred<br />3% used their cells to shoot and share photos or videos related to the election<br />1% used a cell-phone app that provided updates from a candidate or group about election news<br />1% contributed money by text message to a candidate or group connected to the election like a party or interest group.<br />Demographic groups with high usage rates include young adults, African-Americans and those with some college experience or a college degree<br />4/14/2011<br />22<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  23. 23. No clear partisan splits in the “mobile political user” group<br />Voting was evenly split (44%/44%) between Republican and Democratic candidates<br />Party ID mirrors overall population, as does political ideology<br />27% Republican<br />35% Democrat<br />32% Independent<br />Evenly split on attitudes towards Tea Party movement<br />34% agree/strongly agree<br />32% disagree/strongly disagree<br />Went to polls in greater numbers than overall population, although one in five say they did not vote<br />Democrats and Republicans engaged w/ their phones in similar ways, with Democratic voters a bit more likely to:<br />Text message others about the campaign<br />Inform others that they voted using their cell phones<br />4/14/2011<br />23<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  24. 24. Main differences relate to age, not political attitudes<br />4/14/2011<br />24<br />Internet and Politics<br />
  25. 25. Open for comments/questions!<br />name: Aaron Smith<br />title: Senior Research Specialist<br />email:<br />web:<br />twitter: @aaron_w_smith, @pew_internet<br />4/14/2011<br />25<br />Internet and Politics<br />