TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Voters Use Internet More, Big Role Seen in 2008

Voters Use Internet More, Big Role Seen in 2008

Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters (
Wed, 17 Jan 2007 15:10:54 -0600

By Jeremy Pelofsky

Americans turned in growing numbers to the Internet for political news
and information during the 2006 U.S. congressional campaign, as Web
videos and blogs became more widespread, a report on Wednesday said.

Fifteen percent of those surveyed said they relied on the Web for the
bulk of their political news in 2006, up from 7 percent in the 2002
congressional campaign but down 2 points from 2004, when there was
also a presidential race. Presidential contests tend to draw more
intense interest.

"We might begin to see 2008 as the year when the distinction between
'virtual' politics and 'real life' politics becomes much less
meaningful," said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project and
co-author of the report.

"Plenty of candidates will have MySpace pages and lots of other
activists will create political material that will spread virally

Political campaigns may also crop up on popular Internet worlds like
"Second Life," he said.

Still, the Internet trailed the top three sources of news, television
with 69 percent, newspapers with 34 percent and radio with 17 percent,
the survey found. Respondents were permitted two answers.

Videos on sites like played a role in the 2006 campaign,
widely distributing gaffes such as Sen. George Allen calling a worker
for his challenger a "macaca" -- referring to an African monkey but
sometimes used as a racial slur.

Allen lost his re-election bid by less than 10,000 votes.

In the 2008 race for the White House, former North Carolina Sen. John
Edwards unveiled his plans to run for the Democratic nomination via
his Web site and e-mail, while Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama
on Tuesday posted a video online revealing his bid.

The Pew study pointed to the growth of high-speed Internet, known as
broadband, as contributing to the jump in usage.

"Young broadband users seem to be replacing (their) time with
newspapers with online news outlets, while older broadband users go
online for political information as a supplement to other media," said
John Horrigan, the associate director for research and co-author of
the report.

The Pew survey polled 2,562 adults and had a margin of error of plus
or minus two percentage points.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.

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