Expert Commentary

Pew Research Center report: The Internet and campaign 2010

Pew Research Center report surveying online participation during election season.

In the 2010 election cycle, some 54% of adults used the Internet for political purposes, far exceeding the 2006 midterm digital usage rate of 31%.

The Pew Research Center’s report detailing election season participation, “The Internet and Campaign 2010,” surveyed adult online engagement with the campaign. Many Americans saw both positive and negative dimensions in this growing political world; many said that the Internet made it easier to engage with others who have similar political views but also helped promote increased political extremism.

The report’s findings include:

  • 73% of adult Internet users (or 54% of all U.S. adults) went online to get news or information about the 2010 midterm elections, or to get involved in the campaign in one way or another.
  • Three-quarters (77%) of those engaged used a wireless connection through their cell phone or laptop for accessing the Web.
  • Of those who used Internet for political engagement, 49% voted for Republican candidates and 35% for Democratic candidates in 2010.
  • 28% used the Internet to “fact check” claims made during the campaign.
  • One in five adults (22%) who were online used Twitter or a social networking site for political purposes in 2010.
  • 54% of online adults said the Internet makes it easier to connect with those that share their views.
  • 55% believe the Internet bolsters the power of those with extreme political views, compared with 30% who say that the Internet diminishes the influence of extreme views by giving citizens a voice.

Despite the clear advantages of the Internet for access to information, the report concludes that, generally, Americans “feel that the Internet opens people to a wider range of viewpoints, although many find it difficult to separate good political information from bad.”

Tags: elections, Internet, presidential primary, Twitter, news, campaigns and media, social media, mobile tech

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