Millennials and Generation Xers take a more digital, social and “do-it-yourself” approach to understanding political candidates and issues, according to research conducted by Horizon Media. Boomers and Matures, on the other hand, are more likely to lean on traditional media like newspapers, political programs, and opinion leaders.
Millennials (40%) and Gen Xers (32%) are twice as likely as Boomers (19%) and Matures (14%) to cite search among their top five resources. Millennials (30%) are more likely than Gen Xers (18%), Boomers (12%) and Matures (7%) to turn to friends and family on social media.
Further, Millennials pay the most attention to candidate social feeds: 28% of Millennials say they look to social posts directly from candidates for information, versus 13% of Gen Xers, 13% of Boomers and 9% of Matures. Facebook is the most popular social platform for people of all ages, with 5 in 10 (49%) using it for political conversation.
While younger voters gravitate to digital and social channels, the older generations look to traditional media and political opinion leaders. Half of Boomers (50%) and nearly two thirds of Matures (62%) say newspaper and magazine articles get them up to speed politically, compared to just 39% of Gen Xers (39%) and 30% of Millennials.
Boomers (37%) and Matures (44%) are also more likely than Gen Xers (27%) and Millennials (23%) to turn to political pundits on TV. And while almost a third of voters overall (32%) say TV commercials are among their top five sources keeping them informed about candidates, Boomers (43%) are most likely to say so.
“When it comes to politics, each generation is drawn to the media that helped it come of age as voters,” stated Kirk Olson, VP TrendSights, Horizon Media, “When Baby Boomers reached voting age in the Sixties, TV ruled. The dot-com boom of the nineties digitized the political landscape for Gen Xers. And for most Millennials, coming of age as a voter coincided with the birth of social media. For Millennials in particular, it’s a new paradigm where their own voices matter as much as so-called opinion leaders.”
All of this political chatter may not make a bit of difference in the end. More than nine in ten self-identified Democrats (91%) and self-identified identified Republicans (93%) say they will vote for their party’s candidate. As for those that are strongly against certain candidates, most voters (78%) plan to vote in order to “get a candidate into office” versus 22% who plan to vote to “keep the other candidate out of office.”