54% of adults used the internet for political purposes in the last cycle, far surpassing the 2006 midterm contest. They hold mixed views about the impact of the internet: It enables extremism, while helping the like-minded find each other. It provides diverse sources, but makes it harder to find truthful sources.
Fully 73% of adult internet users (representing 54% of all US 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. We refer to these individuals as “online political users” and our definition includes anyone who did at least one of the following activities in 2010:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Taken together, 73% of online adults took part in at least one of these activities in 2010. Although our definition of an online political user has changed significantly over time, the overall audience for political engagement and information-seeking has grown since the most recent midterm election cycle in 2006—using a different array of activities to measure online political activity, we found at that time that 31% of adults used the internet for campaign-related purposes.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
The Internet in the 2010 Election
The Pew Internet and American Life Project reports: