Social Media, Cell Phones Have Played A Prominent Role In The 2014 Midterm Elections

Chuck Bednar for – Your Universe Online
As Americans head out to the polls today to vote for the candidates of their choice in the 2014 Midterm Elections, more and more of them have prepared by getting their political information and election news from cell phones and social media websites, a new survey from the Pew Research Center has revealed.
In the report, which was released Monday, Pew reported that 28 percent of all registered voters had used their cell phones for these reasons during the most recent election, an increase from 13 percent in 2010. In addition, it found that 16 percent of registered voters now follow candidates or political figures on social media, up from just six percent in 2010.
“Voters of all ages are more likely to take part in these behaviors than in the previous midterm race, but that growth has been especially pronounced among 30-49 year olds,” the research organization said in a statement, noting that about 40 percent of voters in that age group used their cell phone to follow this year’s midterm elections (up from 15 percent in 2010).
On the whole, these so-called “mobile election news consumers” tend to be more active than other US residents when it comes to certain types of campaign activities, Pew reported. Those individuals are more likely to have encouraged people they know to vote or support a specific candidate than the voter pool as a whole (58 percent versus 37 percent), and were more likely to have attended a campaign event (11 percent versus 6 percent).
Furthermore, 21 percent of 30-49 year olds of the 2,003 adults (including 1.494 registered voters) interviewed by Pew between October 15 and October 20 said that the follow political figures on websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Not only is that a nine-percent increase from four years ago, but it means that voters in that age group are now nearly as involved in both of these activities as 18-29 year olds, according to the research center.
“Participation in the digital campaign does not have a clear partisan slant. Republicans and Democrats engage in each of these behaviors at similar rates,” Pew said. “Voters from both parties place a similar emphasis on the deeper connections that social media allows them to form with the candidates they support.”
The study found that 25 percent of Republicans and 29 percent of Democrats reported using their phones to keep up with election news, and 18 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats said that they followed political figures on social media during this most recent campaign season. However, members of each party had their own unique reasons for using cell phones and social media to follow election news and political candidates.
While Pew said that members of both parties are “equally likely to say that feeling more personally connected to the candidates and groups” was a “major reason” for following them on social media, it noted that “Republican and Republican-leaning independents tend to place a greater emphasis on finding out about news quickly and on getting what they perceive as being more reliable information than is available from traditional news organizations.”
“Some 50 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who follow political figures on social media say that getting news quickly is a ‘major reason’ for doing so (compared with 35 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning independents), while 33 percent say that getting more reliable information than what is available from the traditional news media is a ‘major reason’ (compared with 20 percent of Democrats),” the organization added.
Overall, Pew found that more than twice as many Americans have been following political candidates on social media than during the 2010 midterms, and that those who do so are more likely to be “highly engaged” with various aspects of a political campaign. For example, those individuals are more likely to volunteer their time to a political cause (11 percent to 4 percent), to make a financial contribution to a campaign (21 percent to 11 percent) and to encourage friends to support a particular candidate or issue (62 percent to 39 percent).
Forty-one percent of people following political figures said that finding out election-related news before others was a “major reason” why they did so (an increase from 22 percent in 2010), while 35 percent cited feeling more personally connected to political candidates or groups and 26 percent said that getting more reliable information than what is available from traditional news outlets was a primary reason for using social media for these purposes.
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