January 23, 2007

The New Online Political Elite

23%

That’s the portion of campaign internet users — adults who used the internet during the 2006 midterm election campaigns to get political news and information and discuss the races through email — who also used the internet to create and share political content. These creators are particularly active in every type of online political activity.

Nearly one-in-four U.S. adults (23%) who used the internet to obtain political news and information during the 2006 midterm election campaigns also created and shared political content in one or another ways. That translates into 11% of internet users and 7% of the entire U.S. population who used the “read-write Web” to contribute to political discussion and activity. A new Pew Internet Project survey found that: 8% of campaign internet users posted their own political commentary to a newsgroup, Web site or blog; 13% forwarded or posted someone else’s political commentary; 1% created political audio or video recordings; 8% forwarded or posted someone else’s political audio or video recordings. Political content creators are highly active and engaged citizens, not only on the internet, but in civic life in general. Compared with many of their fellow citizens, political content creators report higher levels of interest in public life. They are heavy consumers of news in all forms. In the most recent campaign they were more likely to cite the internet as the main source of their political news than newspapers, although television remained their main source of political news. They also exhibit the most aggressive use of the internet to do all kinds of political activity, from exchanging emails about the campaign, to signing up for email alerts from campaigns, to getting political news from web sites outside the mainstream media, to watching video clips and assessing candidate claims and counterclaims, to donating to candidates. Political content creators are also more likely than others to prefer going to Web sites that share their point of view. And they are more likely than other internet users to go to Web sites that are not principally fed by American news organizations. Read More