According to a recent study "2008 Search Engines and Politics: A Study of Attitudes and Influence," by Didit and summarized by Marketing Charts, 7% of online voters say they are likely to change their vote before the election, and the types of sites they select for political information after internet searches determine the likelihood of an opinion change.
The survey found that online sources are among the top three media choices for election information for 80% of online voters.
Media Choices For Election Information(% or Respondents)
Source: Didit, September 2008
Among the online voters, 44% use search engines to find election-related information, and more than a quarter also say they use sponsored links that appear in search-engine results pages.
Didit found that a measurable correlation exists between links that respondents selected after entering a search and the probability of a change of opinion about a candidate.
When choosing which site to select from a search-engine-results page:
Didit's analysis of those selections
According to Didit's analysis, these results show that bidding on opposition-related keywords can have a slight effect, and that praising oneself could be more persuasive than denigrating the opposition. They also show that searchers who prefer to visit only sites that favor the candidate of their choice are not likely to change their opinions, and those who visit sites that oppose the other candidate are doing so for inoculation purposes and to reinforce beliefs they already hold.
While online, respondents indicated that they obtain information by visiting
Other, less-used sources of information include polling sites such as realclearpolitics.com, gallup.com, and rasmussen.com, YouTube , social networks, email from the campaigns and friends, and the Yahoo portal.
Where Online Users Start the Information Process (% of Respondents)
Likelihood of Starting From
% Very Likely
% Not Likely
Source: Didit, September 2008
When asked to rate how often they use various engines to look for political information using a scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 10 (very often), they indicated Google as the engine used most often (6.27), followed by Yahoo (4.12) and MSN (2.53). Other engines are very rarely used.
Although they had to click on a sponsored link to arrive at the survey page, 44% of respondents answered no when asked whether they have ever clicked on a sponsored link, 27% said yes, 16% said maybe, and 13% did not know what a sponsored link was.
Very few respondents said they are likely to change their opinion between now and November, but if they do it is very likely that they would change it based on online information.
Kevin Lee, CEO and cofounder of Didit, concludes that "With no restrictions on how much an individual or political action committee can spend buying search terms, and no record of who is buying the ads, the candidate with the most sound search strategy could end up swaying the remaining undecided voters... "
For additional information on Didit and the study, please visit here.