Analysis: More Americans Turn to the Internet for News About Politics

  • September 20, 2006
  • By John B. Horrigan

On a typical day in August, 26 million Americans were using the internet for news or information about politics and the upcoming mid-term elections, according to this survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That corresponds to 19% of adult internet users, or 13% of all Americans over the age of 18.

This is a high-point in the number of internet users turning to cyberspace on the average day for political news or information, exceeding the 21 million figure registered in a Pew Internet Project survey during the November 2004 general election campaign.

Comparing August 2006 figures to a similar point in the 2002 mid-term election cycle is particularly revealing. In July 2002, approximately 11 million Americans, or 13% of online users, said they got some news or information about politics and the campaign from the internet on the average day. The August 2006 number is nearly two-and-a-half times larger than the mid-summer 2002 figure.

The rising use of the internet to get political information is notable for two reasons. First, the telephone survey that captured the finding was conducted in August, usually a month of relative quiet in the political world. Second, mid-term elections campaigns tend to draw much less public interest than those that take place in presidential election years.