Tea Partiers Were Most Active Social Site Users in 2010

Compared to all social network site users, Tea Partiers were more likely to engage with political candidates and groups on Facebook and other social networks. A survey from Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project measured political use of Twitter, Facebook and other social sites leading up to the 2010 midterm elections.

Compared to 11 percent of all social networking site users, and 13 percent of Tea Party opponents, 22 percent of Tea Party supporters using social sites friended a candidate or cause before the elections. Pew also found some disparity between social networking Republicans and Democrats when it came to friending a candidate or cause. The study showed 17 percent of Republicans did so, compared to 12 percent of Democrats.

All in all, a nearly equal percentage of Republicans and Democrats – 40 percent and 38 percent respectively – used social sites for political purposes before the midterms.

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Tea Party supporters using social sites seemed especially engaged and active, the study shows. Twenty-three percent of social networking tea partiers used sites like Facebook to find out who friends voted for, compared to 18 percent of all social network users. Among tea partiers using social sites, 23 percent used the sites to get candidate campaign information, while just 14 percent of all social site users did. The study also found 19 percent of Tea Partiers on social sites used them to post political content, compared to 13 percent of all online social networkers.

According to Pew, 8 percent of U.S. Internet users are on Twitter, while 61 percent use social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Eleven percent of Twitter users followed a candidate or political group before the election. Sixteen percent of Twitter users were on the site to get information on campaigns or candidates, and 12 percent were on Twitter to monitor election results as they were reported.

The study shows 36 percent of social site and Twitter users said a “major reason” they used the sites was to feel more personally connected to the candidates or groups they follow.

Pew surveyed 2,257 voting aged adults from November 3 through November 24, 2010.

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