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Study: GOP Outnumbered Dems Online in Campaign 2008

  |  April 17, 2009   |  Comments

But Barack Obama's supporters were more likely to post political content, donate online, and engage in activities than John McCain's.

A study that examines Internet usage during the 2008 political campaign found that Republican Party members were more likely to be online than Democrats, but Barack Obama supporters participated in a greater number of online political activities.

A report, "The Internet's Role in Campaign 2008," released this week by Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that 68 percent of Republicans were more likely to be "online political users" compared to 53 percent for Democrats and 56 percent for Independents. Overall, the study found 55 percent of voting-age Americans went online during the campaign to find online news, communicate with others about political campaigns, and more.

The report said, "This reflects the fact that [John] McCain supporters and Republicans in general have higher amounts of education and income than Democrats -- and those are two of the strongest predictors of Internet use."

Online political users are defined by Pew as individuals who went online for news about politics or the campaign, communicated with others about politics using the Internet, and share or receive campaign information using tools such as Twitter, e-mail, and text messages.

According to the study, Obama supporters participated more in online political activities such as posting thoughts and comments about the election online, volunteering for campaign activities, and donating money.

Here's how Obama supporters participated in online political activities versus McCain followers.

  • Post political content online: 26 percent vs. 15 percent.
  • Engage politically on an online social network: 25 percent vs. 16 percent.
  • Share photos, video, or audio content: 21 percent vs. 16 percent.
  • Sign up for election updates: 18 percent vs. 9 percent.
  • Donate money online: 15 percent vs. 6 percent.
  • Sign up for e-mail news alerts: 12 percent vs. 8 percent.
  • Volunteer online: 11 percent vs. 4 percent.

Among all adults surveyed, 44 percent said they got news or information about politics or the election in 2008, up from 29 percent in 2004 and 18 percent in 2000, according to Pew.

The report is based on a survey of 2,254 adults conducted in November and December of 2008. Of those surveyed, 1,591 in the sample were Internet users.

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Enid Burns

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