Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Younger voters are tuning out 2012 election news, slowing the growth of the Internet as a major news source

The 2012 election is just not turning on young voters quite the way the 2008 election did - or at least that is one of the possible conclusions to be drawn from a new Pew research survey.

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press’ 2012 campaign news survey, conducted in early January, asked 1,507 adult voters where they are getting their election news. All media outlets showed either flat growth or a decline in usage. The Internet, as a news source, grew one percent and moved past local newspapers and approached network television news as the source voters use the most.
Cable news fell only two percent to 36 percent, and is now the main source of news for voters.

The slowing in the growth of the Internet as an election news source, Pew's study shows, is entirely caused by the lack of interest being shown by younger voters – something that could seriously hurt the Obama campaign.

In 2008, 42 percent of voters between the age of 19-29 said they regularly learned about the candidates and the campaigns through the Internet. This has fallen to 29 percent, with other outlets not making up the difference.

One giant caveat to the survey is that it was conducted so early in the race and is only now being released. With no Democratic challenger to President Obama, it might be concluded that young people will not get interested in the 2012 election until after the primaries.
This may also explain why the Pew study revealed that social networking sites are low down on the list of news sources, as well. Respondents said that Facebook and Twitter were not being used widely to get campaign information, instead cable news channel CNN, along with Yahoo/Yahoo News, are the leading campaign news sources.

Not surprisingly, those who identify themselves as Tea Party members continue to see most news sources as biased. 74 percent of Tea Party members see the news media as biased, and these same voters continue to get their news from, you guessed it, Fox News.

There is a ton of information in the new Pew study, but since it was conducted in early January, it will need to be updated in the summer to give us a clue as to whether younger voters, in particular, will be energized enough to go to the polls in November.