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Oct
2012
12

STUDY: Voters are Fact-Checking Candidate Claims Online at Record Levels



A new study shows that Americans are increasingly turning to the Internet to get their information on the 2012 election.

64 percent of “persuadable voters” fact check politicians online. This trend is partially due to trusting the information they find online more than in the mainstream media.

The study was conducted by Global Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies and surveyed 500 persuadable voters in the swing states of Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada, and Virginia. The main findings include:

-Persuadable voters get their news about this year’s campaigns and elections online: A near majority of persuadable voters (49%) get their news about this year’s campaigns and elections on the Internet, largely on search engines like Google.

-Persuadable voters “fact check” online: Fully 64% of voters use the Internet to verify or “fact check” a claim made by a candidate, including 34% who do so weekly, and 58% search for information online about candidates’ voting records or positions on the issues, including more than a quarter (26%) who do so weekly.

-Persuadable voters trust the information they get online: A broad majority (58%) believe the Internet exposes them to a wider range of views than they can get in the traditional news media and 62% trust the information they find online – right up there with network news (67%) and print newspapers (62%). A big reason for this is persuadable voters’ belief that it is generally easy to tell what information is true and what is not online (41%), even easier than it is to decipher what is true and what is not on television (32%).

The Internet, and in particular social media, have become critical outlets on the campaign trail, allowing politicians to deliver instant responses to criticism and allowing them to articulate their message at a low cost. The importance of the Internet in the 2012 election has dramatically changed how elections are covered. Busloads of reporters on the campaign trail are turning into localized packs of reporters live-tweeting events. The growth of social media as a go-to news provider has led to new levels of political participation.

Another recent study found that in 2010, when Facebook added a clickable “I Voted” button and an election reminder, it resulted in 340,000 extra voters nationwide.

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