Some 74% of Internet users—representing 55% of the entire adult population—went online in 2008 to get involved in the political process or to get news and information about the election. This marks the first time that a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey has found that more than half of the voting-age population used the Internet to get involved in the political process during an election year.
Several online activities rose to prominence in 2008. In particular, Americans were eager to share their views on the race with others and to take part in the online debate on social media sites such as blogs and social networking sites. Among the key findings of the Pew Internet survey:
- Nearly one in five (18%) Internet users posted their thoughts, comments or questions about the campaign on an online forum such as a blog or social networking site.
- Fully 45% of Internet users went online to watch a video related to the campaign.
- One in three Internet users forwarded political content to others. Indeed, the sharing of political content (whether writing and commentary or audio and video clips) increased notably over the course of the 2008 election cycle. While young adults led the way in many political activities, seniors were highly engaged in forwarding political content to their friends and family members.
- Young voters continued to engage heavily in the political debate on social networking sites. Fully 83% of those age 18-24 have a social networking profile, and two-thirds of young profile owners took part in some form of political activity on these sites in 2008.
- The relative importance of the Internet also continued to grow within the overall political media ecosystem. Among the entire population (Internet users and non-users alike) the Internet is now equal to newspapers and roughly twice as important as radio as a source of election news and information. Among Internet users and young adults, these differences are even more magnified.
Read the full report The Internet's Role in Campaign 2008 on the Pew Internet & American Life Project's Web site.