Internet Major Resource For Political News

    April 16, 2009

More than half of Americans used the Internet as a political resource during the 2008 election, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Some 55 percent of adults and 74 percent of all Internet users went online for news and information about the election or to communicate with others about the race.

Nearly half (45%) of Americans watched online videos related to politics or the election. Young adults led the way in their online video consumption, with close to half of all 18-29 year olds watching online political videos.

Thirty-three percent of Internet users shared digital content with others and 52 percent of those with a social networking profile used it for political purposes.

"Voters in 2008 were not just passive followers of the political process," said Aaron Smith, Research Specialist at the Pew Internet & American Life Project and author of the Project’s new report on these findings.

Major Sources of Election News

"They used a wide range of digital tools and technologies to get involved in the race, to harness their creativity in support of their chosen candidate, and to join forces with others who shared their same political goals."

The percentage of Americans relying on the Internet as a major source of campaign news has more than doubled since the 2000 election (from 11% to 26%). For younger Americans and those with high-speed connections, the Internet far outpaces newspapers, magazines and radio as a major source of campaign news.

At the same time, people have become more partisan it their political browsing. One-third (33%) of online newsreaders say they usually look for online political information from sites that share their political point of view, up from 26 percent in 2004.

"The 2008 elections saw the role of the Internet in politics increase and it witnessed the emergence of a unique group of online political activists," said Smith.

"Compared with other Internet users, these individuals delve more deeply into the political news of the day, and take part in a much wider range of online political activities. At the same time, these online activists show a greater interest in news and information with an explicitly partisan slant-particularly when compared with those who use the Internet as a purely information-gathering device."