Nearly eight-in-ten registered voters (78%) say they received printed mail from candidates or political groups during the 2010 election campaign. Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) received pre-recorded telephone calls about the election. The number of people receiving recorded telephone calls grew steadily over the final few weeks of the campaign, increasing from 55% in mid-October, to 60% by late October, to 69% by election day.
One-third of registered voters (33%) received a call from a live person, and 31% received email from candidates or political groups. Nearly one-quarter of registered voters (23%) were visited at home by someone talking about the elections. Fewer than one-in-ten (7%) received a campaign related text message on a cell phone.
Campaign contacts with voters were greater in 2010 than in 2006. This year 71% of voters received a telephone call (either recorded or from a live person) about the 2010 election. By comparison, as of election weekend in 2006, 50% of registered voters said they had been contacted over the phone by a candidate or political group. And the 31% of registered voters who received political messages via email in 2010 is more than twice the number who had received political email just prior to the 2006 election (14%). In total, 89% of registered voters were contacted by a campaign in 2010 via printed mail, email, telephone, text message or in person. That compares with 58% of registered voters who had received a telephone call, a live visit or an email just prior to the 2006 election.
Just over one-in-five registered voters (22%) say they were urged to vote for Republican candidates when contacted about the 2010 election, higher than the number who were urged to vote Democratic (16%). One-third of registered voters (32%) said they were contacted on behalf of both Republican and Democratic candidates.
Like the earlier surveys conducted during the 2010 campaign, the poll shows that younger voters (those under 30) were less likely than older voters to report being contacted by candidates and campaigns. Half of registered voters under 30 (50%) received a pre-recorded telephone call about the campaign, compared with nearly two-thirds or more in all older age groups. And 54% of those under 30 received printed mail about the campaign, far lower than the eight-in-ten or more in older age groups who received campaign literature through the mail. Younger voters were also less likely than older voters to have received campaign text messages; only 2% of registered voters under 30 received political texts, compared with 9% among those age 30-49, 7% among those age 50-64, and 10% among those age 65 and older.
More men received campaign email, but women were more likely to receive pre-recorded telephone calls. More white registered voters received printed mail and pre-recorded phone calls than black registered voters, but the differences are smaller for other types of campaign contact. College graduates were more likely to receive printed mail and email than those with less education, but not more telephone calls, visits or text messages.
Personal Involvement in the Campaign
One-quarter of registered voters (26%) visited a candidate’s website or followed a candidate through email, Facebook or Twitter. Other kinds of campaign involvement were less common; 13% of registered voters donated money to a candidate or campaign (compared with 17% of registered voters who said the same just prior to the 2008 presidential election), 11% attended a campaign event (similar to the 12% who said this in 2008), and 7% volunteered their time to help a campaign.
Slightly more Republicans than Democrats attended a campaign event (16% vs. 10%), but differences between the parties are smaller on other measures of campaign involvement.
Visiting campaign websites was most common among college graduates (38%), followed by those with some college education (31%). Among those with a high school education or less, only about one-in-eight (12%) used the internet to follow the campaign. College graduates are also more likely than those with less education to have donated money to a political cause and to have volunteered their time for a candidate or campaign. The survey also shows that by several measures men were more involved in the campaign than women. Men were more likely to follow the election online (30% vs. 23%), contribute money to a campaign (16% vs. 10%) and attend a campaign event (14% vs. 8%).
Seven-in-ten registered voters (70%) say they talked a lot (33%) or some (37%) about the campaign with family and friends. One-in-five (19%) say they did not talk much about the campaign, and 10% say they did not discuss the campaign at all. Consistent with other polling this year that showed a large enthusiasm gap benefiting Republicans, fully eight-in-ten Republicans (81%) talked frequently about politics with friends and family during the campaign, compared with 71% of independents and 62% of Democrats. Talking about the campaign was also more common among whites than blacks (74% vs. 61% saying a lot or some), and among college graduates than those with less education.
Politics in the Pulpit
Compared with 2006, fewer voters encountered information on parties or candidates in their house of worship. Among registered voters who attend worship services at least once a month, just 16% say election information was available, compared with 25% in 2006. Only 13% say their place of worship provided information about state and local ballot initiatives or constitutional amendments. Even fewer (6%) say their clergy urged them to vote in a particular way, with similar numbers saying they were encouraged to support Republican and Democratic candidates (2% vs. 1%).
Among white evangelical Protestants, 16% of churchgoers say campaign information was made available at their place of worship, down from 30% in 2006. Similarly, far fewer Catholics say these materials were
made available at their churches this year (10%) than in 2006 (21%). In 2006, both white evangelicals and Catholics heard significantly more than white mainline Protestants about politics in their churches; in 2010, differences between these groups have essentially disappeared.
Outside of encountering political information in churches and houses of worship, only 6% say they were contacted by religious groups about the election campaign, a number that differs little across religious groups or levels of worship attendance. For instance, 7% who attend religious services weekly were contacted by a religious group, similar to 4% of those who attend monthly or yearly and 7% of those who attend seldom or never. In addition, 6% of Republicans, Democrats, and independent voters alike were contacted by religious groups about the election.