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The Rise of the Internet in Politics

January 21, 2007

The Pew Center released a new study last week describing how Americans used the Internet during the 2006 midterms.  To no surprise, Americans got more of their political information from the Internet compared to the 2002 mid-term election.  Take a look at the chart below to see how things break down:

News

Television is still the dominant player, but the trend is that people are moving away from T.V. and newspapers and moving to the Internet.  These trends will continue, especially when 35% of younger audiences (36 and under) said that the Internet was their main sources of news about the election. 

But this report just confirms what many people have been saying over the last two or three years.  What was most interesting from this report is that there are a large number of online activists using the Internet.  The study estimates that 7% of the US population could be designated as an online activist.  They define an online activist as someone who “created and shared political content.”

This shows how the Internet is really the place to engage activists.  That is why in the last few weeks many of the Presidential candidates (Edwards, Obama, Clinton) have launched their campaigns through their web sites, instead of formal press conferences or press releases.  The candidates are doing this because it provides a great opportunity to communicate directly to the public and recruit potential activists that may help build support for their candidacy.

Engaging activists through the Internet is not only pivotal for candidates, but for anyone that wants to effectively get their message out.

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