Despite the fact that countless political candidates or their campaigns are on Twitter, less than half of voters expect them to be there. And more Democrats said they have donated online in response to an e-mail than Republicans. A new study from E-Voter Institute also offers glimpses into how and why voters donate to candidates online, and what other types of actions they take online - such as clicking on display ads or viewing campaign videos.
According to the 5th annual E-Voter study, "Social Networks Supercharge Politics: Turning Action into Votes in 2010," 41 percent of voters expect candidates to use Twitter, 50 percent expect them to participate in social networks, and 54 percent expect them to post campaign videos on sites like YouTube.
While 81 percent think candidates should have an official campaign site, just 49 percent expect campaigns to use online display advertising. The study, which surveyed 1,581 respondents in June, also showed that self-proclaimed "very politically active" voters and "very liberal" voters were more likely to click on online ads. Among the very politically active, 27 percent said they clicked on Web ads, while 19 percent of those who said they were "occasionally active in politics" said they clicked on web ads. Twenty-four percent of people who called themselves "very liberal" said they clicked on online ads, compared with 18 percent of those who said they were "very conservative."
Though some innovative campaigns use the Web to persuade voters, spur volunteer activism, or get out the vote, most see the Internet mainly as a fundraising platform. E-mail is a key tool used by campaigns to generate donations, and they often ask supporters to give towards a particular fundraising goal. According to the study, 53 percent of those surveyed said they gave to a campaign because they "wanted to help the candidate or cause reach a target fundraising goal."
The fundraising goal approach seems to work better on Democrats and Independents than on Republicans, the study suggests. Fifty percent of Democrats and 61 percent of Independents said they have given to a campaign to help reach a fundraising goal, while 46 percent of Republicans said the same.
Among study respondents, 36 were Democrats, 31 percent Republicans, and 21 percent Independents.
The study indicates that e-mail and other forms of online asking garner better responses from Democrats than Republicans, at least according to what the respondents claimed. While 40 percent of Democrats said they've donated online in response to an e-mail, less than half that portion of Republicans - 18 percent - said they've done the same.
And, while 43 percent of Democrats said they have donated on a candidate site, only 33 percent of Republicans said they have. Also, though mobile remains an emerging platform for donating to candidate campaigns, 15 percent of Democrats said they've donated via a mobile device, compared to only 2 percent of Republicans.
Democrats and Republicans appear equally willing to give up their e-mail addresses to a campaign, which almost inevitably leads to e-mail fundraising requests. Around a quarter of each group said they have submitted e-mail addresses to a candidate campaign.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
March 19, 2014