Web Grows as a Source for Political Info

The percentage of Americans who regularly go online for news about the presidential campaign has increased from 13 percent in 2004 to 24 percent for the 2008 elections. “Internet’s Broader Role in Campaign 2008” released by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and Pew Internet & American Life Project looks at the increased usage of social networking sites and online videos for topical election news.

Forty-two percent of young adults ages 18 to 29 use the Web as a primary source, up from 20 percent in 2004. As a whole, nearly one in four American adults regularly learn about campaign information from the Internet, up from 9 percent during the 2000 presidential campaign.

People get campaign news from many sources. MSNBC leads the pack; 26 percent of the respondents say they go there. MSNBC is followed by CNN (23 percent) and Yahoo News (22 percent). The survey identifies sources it categorizes as long-tail sites such as the Drudge Report (3 percent); MySpace (3 percent); and YouTube (2 percent).

Younger audiences cast a wider net to find relevant news. When asked which Web sites they head to for campaign news, 41 percent of 18 to 49 year olds listed more than one Web site, compared to 24 percent of people 30 and over. Younger audiences look at more than long-tail news sites; 61 percent of 18 to 29 year olds get campaign news from at least one of the three top sites (MSNBC, CNN, and Yahoo News) versus 46 percent over 30 years of age.

The data are part of a quadrennial survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Internet & American Life Project on campaign news and political communication. The survey was conducted in December 2007 among 1,430 adults.