Social Media and Cell Phone Use for Election News More Than Doubles

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Source: Karan Rajpal, “Five Reasons Politicians Fail at Social Media,” linkedin.com, Mar. 26, 2014

A new survey of 2,003 adults conducted by the Pew Research Internet Project shows that the number of Americans using social media and cell phones to find political information and election news has risen sharply since the Nov. 2010 midterm elections.

More than double the percentage of people used their cell phones to research political issues and track campaigns during the lead-up to the 2014 midterms compared with 2010, rising from 13% to 28%. Use of social media platforms rose also, with 16% using Facebook, Twitter and other services to follow political figures during the 2014 campaign, compared with 6% in 2010.

Much of the growth in social media and cell phone use for seeking political news has come from 30-49 year-olds. 40% of people in that age group now use their cell phones to follow politics, rising from 15% in 2010, and 21% use social media, up from 6% in 2010. 30-49 year-olds have now reached parity with 18-29 year-olds in their use of these technologies for political research.

While 50% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say a major reason for following politicians on social media is to “find out about political news before others do,” only 35% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents feel the same way. 33% of Republicans say a major reason they follow political figures on social media is because “the information [they] get on these sites is more reliable than the information” that passes through the “filter” of traditional media, while only 20% of Democrats say that is a major reason. Democrats and Republicans both say a major reason for using social media in this way was to make themselves “feel more personally connected to the political candidates or groups” they follow.

New York University (NYU) Social Media researcher Pablo Barberá said: “Eventually social media will become the most important source of political information.”

Sources:

Doug Gross, “Facebook, Phones Now Part of Election Decisions,” cnn.com, Nov. 3, 2014

Martha T. Moore, “More Voters Track Politics Via Cell Phone, usatoday.com, Nov. 3, 2014

Micah L. Sifry, “Facebook Wants You to Vote on Tuesday. Here’s How It Messed with Your Feed in 2012,” motherjones.com, Oct. 31, 2014

Aaron Smith, “Cell Phones, Social Media and Campaign 2014,” pewinternet.org, Nov. 3, 2014