March 22, 2011

54% of adults used the internet for political purposes in the last cycle, far surpassing the 2006 midterm contest. They hold mixed views about the impact of the internet: It enables extremism, while helping the like-minded find each other. It provides diverse sources, but makes it harder to find truthful sources.

Fully 73% of adult internet users (representing 54% of all US 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. Previous research had also found that 22% of online American adults used social network sites or Twitter for politics in the 2010 campaign, and that 26% of American adults used their cell phones to learn about or participate in the campaign.

“When it comes to online political engagement and information-seeking, Americans view the internet with an appreciation for its benefits but also with some apprehension towards its broader societal impacts,” said Senior Research Specialist Aaron Smith. “Even as they use online tools to connect with fellow activists around the country and track down interesting nuggets of political information, they tend to worry about the influence of extreme points of view and the overall accuracy of the political debate.” Read more...
About the Survey
This report is based on the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans' use of the Internet. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from November 3-24, 2010, among a sample of 2,257 adults, age 18 and older. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. For more information, please see the Methodology section of this report.

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