Lars Willnat, Ph.D.

Professor and Director, UK School of Journalism and Media

Social Media Use During the 2012 US Presidential Election

Here are the preliminary findings of our 2012 US presidential election survey, which we completed in early November 2012, just shortly before election day:

Forty percent of respondents went online to fact-check candidates’ claims, 39 percent looked for candidates’ positions and 36 percent watched videos about candidates or the election.

Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 9.53.36 AMMany relied on Facebook:

  • 29 percent said they get information about the election campaign or presidential candidates on Facebook.
  • 27 percent shared and 26 percent posted content on Facebook related to the presidential election.

Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 9.53.55 AMTwitter wasn’t quite so popular:

  • 13 percent got information about the election campaign on Twitter.
  • 12 percent followed a presidential candidate, political party or political interest group on Twitter. 11 percent read tweets of political journalists, analysts, or commentators.
  • 10 percent posted a tweet about the election.

Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 9.54.05 AMFewer than one in 10 respondents used the two presidential candidates’ websites. Among those, visitors to Obama’s website were more active than those to Romney’s website. For example, while 9 percent of respondents said they used Obama’s website to participate in fundraising, only 3 percent said they used Romney’s website to do so.

We also found that smartphones were popular tools to access political information.

  • 44 percent of respondents said they kept up with news related to the election on their smartphones.
  • 27 percent sent text messages related to the election campaigns to friends, family members or others.
  • 22 percent shared photos or videos about the campaigns.

 Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 9.54.25 AMYouTube also played a significant role in the campaigns.

  • 17 percent said they watched political videos on YouTube Politics.
  • 17 percent said they watched official campaign videos on Obama’s YouTube channel.
  • 14 percent said they watched official campaign videos on Romney’s YouTube channel.

Screen Shot 2013-02-02 at 9.54.35 AMOverall, the most important news sources for American voters were television (54 percent) and the Internet (34 percent). Newspapers (6 percent), radio (4 percent) and magazines (1 percent), on the other hand, were not as important news sources.

The findings are based on a representative online survey with 1,060 adults 18 years or older living in the United States. The survey was conducted between Oct. 26 and Nov. 5. The margin of error o f this poll could be plus or minus 3 percentage points. The study was conducted by Professor Lars Willnat, assistant professor Jae Kook Lee and doctoral student Jihyang Choi and was supported by grants from Indiana University and the IU School of Journalism.

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This entry was posted on February 2, 2013 by .

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