Based on their survey of 2,254 adults, they suggest that Barack Obama won the 2008 election because he understood new media and captured the attention of social media users:
Obama supporters were generally more engaged in the online political process than online McCain supporters.
Among internet users, Obama voters were more likely to share online political content with others, sign up for updates about the election, donate money to a candidate online, set up political news alerts and sign up online for volunteer activities related to the campaign.
Online Obama voters were also out in front when it came to posting their own original political content online–26% of wired Obama voters did this, compared with 15% of online McCain supporters.
We came to similar conclusions back in November, when we looked at How Barack Obama Beat John McCain With New Media. Pew’s research, though, offers a lot of insight into why the Internet proved to be so important in the 2008 election.
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.
Among the key findings of the 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Additionally, online political news consumers are delving deeply into the long tail of online political content–nearly half of online political news consumers visited five or more distinct types of online news sites this election cycle.
No matter what your politics, there’s a lot that can be learned from looking at how Obama’s campaign used new media and social media to win the 2008 election.
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