As political candidates and political action committees (PACs) begin to fire up their advertising machines, they’ll want to know where voters are likely to be getting their information on the upcoming election. Voters are turning to a variety of media formats to educate themselves on the issues. One important finding of a new study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press contains some surprising information about these sources.
There’s little question that the Internet is being tapped by prospective voters. In the past 12 years, the Internet is the only media channel that has seen an increase with respect to campaign news. Network news, local TV news, and local newspapers have all seen their audiences drop off when voters are checking out candidates. However, cable TV news has remained flat.
This year, the following percentages of voters will be using these sources:
- Cable TV news 36%
- Local TV news 32%
- Network TV news 26%
- Internet 25%
- Local newspaper 20%
In one surprising finding, Pew researchers say that, compared to 4 years ago, fewer young voters – those between the ages of 18 and 29 – are going online to get their campaign news. However, part of this decline may be related to the lack of a contest, nationally, in the Democratic party. About 29% of young voters are using the Internet as a top political resource while 33% of 30–49 year olds say the same.
When consumers do go online, popular destinations include:
- Websites/apps of print, TV and radio organizations 20%
- Online-only sources 12%
- Facebook 6%
- YouTube videos 3%
- Twitter 2%
In term of campaign outreach, most voters say they’ve seen or heard commercials (72)%. Another 25% have received robocalls and 21% have received print mail. For candidates who want to know how they are doing with voters, the Pew research had some answers. About 7% have contributed money to a candidate or PAC.
While candidates are likely to continue spending money on TV ads, especially cable, they should also allocate funds to online news sites as well.[Source: Cable Leads the Pack as Campaign News Source. Pew Research. People-press.org. 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2012]