The Internet is becoming an increasingly important tool in political campaigns but an unusual survey of political consultants, “political junkies” and randomly selected voters suggests that the 2008 election will still be won or lost on televsion and cable. That’s what I extracted from a report titled “Moving to the Mainstream” published by E-Voter Institute, a trade association with links to web publishers. The writeup was hard to follow and seemed tilted toward touting the important of the web in campaigns. Even so it is interesting in both methodology and findings.
The survey incorportated feedback from 155 political consultants and 1,440 “civilians.” Of this latter group 417 apparently responded to banner ads on websites that soliticed their answers to questions on political tactics (I called these folks “political junkies). The final 1,023 respondents were culled from a randomly selected pool of some 6,000 voters who were invited, by email, to take part.
One interesting aspect of the survey was that it compared what the 155 consultants said against the responses of the 1,440 civilians. In Table 8 (see page 15 of the PDF download) we learn that better than 80 percent of each group think TV & cable will be “the best way for candidates and advocates to win in 2008.” Radio was cited as the second most powerful electoral technology by about 30 percent of each group. The Web was not specifically mentioned.
Table 13 provides an interesting look at where the 1,440 civilians get their news. It shows the differences between the 417 political junkies who volunteered to take the online survey against the 1,023 random voters who opted into the survey in response to the email. Newspapers, network television and local television were the top three news sources for both groups. I’m afraid I lack the technical skill to extract the chart here so you’ll have to view it on the download but if you go there I think you’ll note two things that struck me. The political junkies were far more likely (55 percent) to get news from cable than the larger group (20 percent) AND from websites (76 percent versus 36 percent). I guess they can’t get enough politics!