With the U.S. presidential election just days away and the candidates making their last pitches, the Pew Research Center released the results of an October survey of 1,006 adults that indicates how the Web has changed the way campaigns operate and how voters get their information. According to the organization's "Online Political Videos and Campaign 2012" report, 55 percent of registered voters have watched political videos online this election season and 52 percent have had others recommend political videos for them to watch online.
The survey also indicated the process of discovering political videos online is highly social: Some 62 percent of Internet-using registered voters have had others recommend online videos for them to watch related to the election or to politics. That amounts to 52 percent of all registered voters. Nearly half (48 percent) of Internet-using registered voters watch video news reports online about the election or politics, while 40 percent said they watch previously recorded videos online of candidate speeches, press conferences or debates.
More than a quarter (28 percent) said they watch live videos online of candidate speeches, press conferences or debates, while 39 percent of respondents said they watch informational videos online that explain a political issue. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they watch humorous or parody videos online that deal with political issues, while 36 percent said they watch political advertisements online.
Those with different political and ideological bents "tend to engage in similar levels of online political video consumption," the report said. "Democrats and Republicans who go online are equally likely to watch online political videos, as are liberal and conservative Internet users. Republicans and Democrats are equally likely to recommend online political videos to others, as are liberal and conservative Internet users."
However, the study also finds that "registered voters who identify as liberal are more likely to have had political videos recommended to them on a social networking site this election season than moderate or conservative voters."
Overall, two thirds (66 percent) of Internet-using registered voters said they have watched one or more of the aforementioned political videos online during this year's campaign. Voters who said they have given "quite a lot" of thought to the election were especially likely to watch political videos online, with nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of these individuals having watched online political videos this election season. That compares with 45 percent of respondents who said that they have been following the campaign less closely.
Although younger users are more likely to watch political videos than are older users, the videos are also popular with Internet users across a range of demographic categories. Voters with a college degree watch them at higher rates than those with lower levels of education, the survey found.