A higher percentage of Republicans watched online political video before the 2010 election than Democrats, according to a post-election study. In fact, “The Internet and Campaign 2010” report published today by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that a larger portion of Republican voters engaged with politics and political content online compared to Democratic voters.
Pew based its findings on mobile and landline phone interviews of 2,257 over-18 adults between November 3 and 24, 2010 – directly after the 2010 elections. Sixty-nine percent of GOP voters are “online political users” compared to 56 percent of Democratic voters. Pew defines online political users as people who went online to get political news, take part in activities such as watching videos or fact-checking, or used social sites for political purposes.
And Republicans have overtaken Democrats in the online video-watching category. During the 2006 midterm season, a larger percentage of Democratic voters online – 24 percent – watched political Web video than Republicans – 19 percent. In 2010, the right leaped ahead, with 40 percent of Republican voters online watching political video compared to 32 percent of Democratic voters.
Candidate campaigns and political groups are poised to spend more on YouTube videos and video advertising than ever during the 2012 election cycle. Political figures and groups have already begun investing in high-impact, professional quality Web video content. The Wisconsin union protests, for instance, have fueled recent popular video themes. The “StandingwithScott.com” video launched last month by likely GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, which supports Wisconsin Governor’s Scott Walker’s moves to curb public sector union bargaining rights – has been viewed over 34,000 times; a series of pro-union protest videos created by novice yet skillful videographer Matt Wisniewski have made a splash on the left, and been seen tens of thousands of times.
Among all adult web users, 31 percent watched online political video during the 2010 elections compared to 19 percent who watched in ’06. That 63 percentage point increase could simply be a result of the fact that more people have high-speed connections and more political video content exists now compared to four years ago.
Web video views are an increasingly important metric measured by political campaigns as the amount of videos they post to YouTube and their websites grows. However, the most popular gauge of ROI for campaigns spending money online is still the amount of money raised and signups gathered. Pew found a slightly larger portion of Democratic voters gave money online – 6 percent – compared to 5 percent of GOP voters.
Tea party supporters surpassed both groups: Seven percent of those who used the Web donated there.
The Pew study also found that 8 percent of online adults signed up on the Web to receive campaign or election updates, and 7 percent used it to organize or learn about upcoming political meetings. Five percent of online adults used the Web to take part in campaign-related volunteer activities such as get-out-the-vote efforts.
Online GOTV and volunteering was especially prevalent among black Web users compared to whites and Latinos. In fact, almost double the percentage of blacks – 9 percent – went online to access lists of voters to call or take to the polls compared to 4 percent of whites and 2 percent of Latinos who did so.
Around a quarter of U.S. adults get most of their election coverage from the Internet, according to Pew, and CNN.com leads the pack among sites they visit for that content. Twenty-two percent of those who go online for election news visit CNN.com, compared to 20 percent who use Yahoo, 10 percent who go to Fox and 10 percent who visit MSN. Thirteen percent said they visit Google, a gateway to news articles on other sites.
Sites better known for partisan political news – Drudge Report on the right and Huffington Post on the left – attracted just 2 percent and 1 percent of those users, respectively.