Study Shows Voters Highly Engaged with Politics Online

Voters who use the Internet -- regardless of party affiliation -- are highly engaged with politics online. That's according to the Online Publishers Association, which on Thursday announced the results of a new study entitled, Public Opinion About Candidate Websites and Political Advertisements Online. The study, conducted by the Center for Survey and Research Analysis at the University of Connecticut, found that 68% of voters who use the Internet are likely to research a candidate's position online. This finding was relatively consistent across party lines, with a clear majority of Democrats (57%), Republicans (68%) and Independents (59%) very or somewhat likely to do so.

"It is clear that voters are increasingly turning to the Web for information about political candidates and campaigns," said Michael Zimbalist, executive director of the Online Publishers Association. "These findings suggest that candidates who use the Web to reach both their core constituents and undecided voters stand to gain a significant advantage in the upcoming political season."

Thirty-one percent of all Internet users turned to the Web for information about a representative or candidate during the 2000 presidential campaign, with more than half of those using it for that purpose frequently -- multiple times per month. Given the significant rise in Internet usage since then, that percentage is likely to increase dramatically in the coming election cycle.

The study also found that nearly 30% of Internet users are interested in seeing political advertisements online, a significant finding in view of the relative under-exposure of this type of advertising on the Internet to date. Sixty percent of Internet users say they are likely to notice an ad for a candidate online, while 20% percent would rather watch a candidate's ad online than on television.

Interestingly, the research showed that visitors to different types of sites show varying degrees of political engagement. News site visitors are more likely to use the Internet for politics than Internet users overall. However, Business site visitors (25%) are most likely to join an online political chat, and Special Interest site visitors (36%) are most likely to sign up to receive candidate information online via email.

Not surprisingly, voters are significantly more likely than non-voters to provide an email address (29% vs. 11%), volunteer for a campaign online (17% vs. 6%), or donate money to a campaign online (14% vs. 2%).

Next story loading loading..