November 1, 2011

Research Shows Big Link Between Commenting Online & Voting

by tolles at 5:29 PM

We commissioned Equation Research to do a survey of over 1,000 people regarding the link between voting and online commenting behaviors, and the results were really interesting.

The research found an increasing number of citizens turning to each other (versus one-to-many sources such as traditional news outlets and candidate-driven leaflets, etc.) for guidance on key issues.  Research uncovered voters using the Internet as their preferred venue for this exchange of ideas. Specifically, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of voters use the Internet as their primary source of information about candidates and political issues, second only to television (78 percent). Online news also ranked the most helpful political information source, with 89 percent of respondents calling it somewhat or extremely useful

Even more surprising, more than a quarter of voters (27 percent) participate in political discussions or debates online.

Other key findings include:

  • The primary reason voters participate in online political discussions is that participants dissect issues in greater depth than traditional media (81 percent of those active online somewhat or completely agreed).
  • Over half of all respondents agreed online discussions provide an array of opinions, not just extreme sides. This number jumped to 89 percent when asked of those who actively participate in online discussions.
  • 24 percent of voters agree somewhat or completely that online conversations drive their vote. Of those that participate in political debate online, 58 percent say the conversations drive their vote

The research also addressed political advertising. 68 percent of those active in political conversations online say they are more likely to pay attention to advertising on a site where they participate in political discussion and debate. Two out of five voters say they are more likely to see political advertising as credible if it is on a website that has both positive and negative commentary about the candidate.  And, 48 percent of voters ranked the Internet as the second most impactful advertising medium, second only to television (66 percent).

For the 2011 Politics Online Report, Topix and its partner Equation Research surveyed 1,008 U.S. residents, over 18 who vote in elections. The mean age of respondents was 44 with a mean income of $70,000 annually.

Here's an infographic of the results (click on it for a human readable version :-)

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And a great writeup by Read Write Web of this and other information from Digitas: