Interest in politics drove 26 million Americans online in search of news and information on mid-term elections in August. A report on online politics released by Pew Internet & American Life Project finds more American adults are seeking election-related news than during the 2004 general elections.
August is typically a slow month for politics; activity generally picks up after the Labor Day holiday. Political activity gravitated to the Internet to bring 26 million Americans to sites with political information and news. This amounts to 19 percent of adult Internet users, or 13 percent of all Americans over 18. The 2002 mid-term elections registered 11 million American surfers in July of the election cycle, which accounted for 13 percent of online adults. By contrast, the height of the 2004 general elections in November saw 21 million American adults turned to the Web for political content.
The increase in political interest online is attributed to broadband adoption and the overall Web.
"It's probably more a phenomenon of people being more interested in political content online," said Pew Internet Associate Director Dr. John Horrigan.
The organization compared data about online activities with a general political survey and found little difference in previous attitudes toward politics. "Given that people aren't any more interested, we suspect that news organizations and people themselves have started putting up more information," said Horrigan, who points to continued growth of the Internet and broadband as another factor.
"We suspect it has to do with the growth of broadband penetration, and then you have the election YouTube phenomenon," said Horrigan.
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March 19, 2014