March 17, 2011

Jim Romenesko writes today that a new Pew report says that 54 percent
of all U.S. adults went online to get midterm elections information.
Pew has done a remarkable job over the years of tracking the changing
landscape for online politics. To illustrate these changes, let’s take
a look at some of Pew’s earlier election reports.

The Internet and the 2008 Election” (PDF)

….large numbers of Americans are not only going online to learn about the campaigns, but are also taking an active role in promoting online conversations about politics and spreading news and information about their candidate of choice or the race in general.

Election 2006 Online” (PDF)

The growing importance of the internet in political life is tied at
least in part to the spread of broadband connections in American
homes. From November 2002 to November 2006, the share of adult
Americans with high-speed connections at home grew from 17% to 45%.

The Internet and Campaign 2004” (PDF)

As the audience has become bigger and more mainstream, internet users’
tastes have shifted towards a preference for using the internet
because it is convenient. It is still the case, though, that more than
half of online political news consumers say they like getting news
online because it enhances or goes beyond what they feel they get from
television and newspapers.

Online campaigners, citizens, and portals in the 2002 elections” (PDF)

But at the milestone of the 2002 midterm elections, the evidence shows
that political cyberspace was populated mostly by tentative
campaigners and wandering citizens. The major portals of Web traffic
played a late, mild, yet remarkably sophisticated role in the

Internet Election News Audience Seeks Convenience, Familiar Names” (PDF)

Nearly one-in five Americans (18%) say they went online for election
news during this year’s campaign, up from 4% who did so in the 1996
campaign. Fully one-third of the online population, which itself has
grown dramatically over the past four years, got election news from
the Internet.

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