Digital media has undeniably entered the fold as a vital outlet to learn about and interact with politics and presidential nominees in 2016. Despite a huge growth in digital spend this cycle, broadcast TV has remained the primary motivational force behind voter behavior.
Across all age groups, 80% of registered voters are likely to have first gained knowledge about a candidate or issue on TV, according to a Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) study from April. The number is slightly lower at 74% for the Millennial group, though TV retains the lead over all other media among this age group.
According to the same study, while Democrats are the political denomination most likely to be influenced to vote a certain way through digital media, TV is still the strongest political driver of votes among all political groups (Independents, Republicans and Democrats).
The VAB study showed that 76% of Republicans' final decisions are influenced by TV when voting in a general election, Democrats say so 74% of the time and 64% of Independents say TV influences their general election votes.
Political ad spend on TV remains around 60% of overall ad budgets, but the importance of TV goes far beyond paid media. We’ve experienced a dramatic rise in the effectiveness of earned media as harnessed by Republican nominee Donald Trump.
There is no doubt that Trump’s continued pervasiveness on TV will be an important cog in propelling him through the last few months of the campaign. The downsides are clear as well, however.
A GfK Voter Funnel Research study adds weight to the VAB study above, though with slightly differing numbers. The study shows that 70% of registered voters select TV as “the most important medium for issue awareness,” and 51% say that it is the most consequential medium when influencing them to vote.
Trump has repeatedly made negative headlines, which now seem to have been taking a toll on his polling numbers, as well as affecting his shaky relationships with top Republican lawmakers.
The central importance of TV on voter awareness and on voting considerations will continue to plague the Republican nominee if he keeps crossing lines widely believed to be unacceptable among the general voting population.