Americans Turn to Phones, Net for Politics

The adjective most frequently associated with the American electorate in recent years might be “apathy,” but a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project might show a political re-awakening through technology. “The Internet and the 2008 Election” finds that nearly half of all Americans—46 percent—have ised their phones or the Internet to participate in some form of political activity, whether that’s getting information about a campaign or issue, sharing their views, or mobilizing others. And supporters of presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama seem to be leading the way with online political activity.

Among the online crowd, the report finds four activities are the most common, with 39 percent of Americans saying they’ve used the INternet to access information, documents, and other “unfiltered” campaign materials and information, and 35 percent of respondents saying they’ve watched online political videos. Further, 10 percent of respondents said they’ve used a social networking service to gather information or become involved, and 6 percent have made online political contributions. That last figure is up from just 2 percent who made online political contributions during the complete 2004 presidential campaign.

Even as Americans—particularly younger Americans—take part in the political process via technology, Internet users remain skeptical of the role of the Internet in the 2008 campaign, with many wired Americans saying the Internet has a tendency to magnify extreme viewpoints and serve as a source of false, inaccurate, or misleading information.