The #socialelection

January 24, 2013

The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management has just released the results of a landmark survey, conducted jointly with business intelligence leader ORI, about the impact of social media on the 2012 elections.  The study, “The 2012 Social Media Election Survey: Key Lessons to Inform Decision Making in Politics and Business,” provides insight into the recent convergence of the political and digital landscapes. 

Among the survey’s primary objectives were to understand:

  • How the public was using social media to learn about and engage in discussions about the election.
  • The perceived credibility of social media relative to other sources of information.
  • The influence of social media in shaping perceptions about the candidates and issues.
  • How effectively the candidates used social media to engage the electorate.
  • Demographic differences in perception and behavior. 

Among those surveyed, social media connection with a candidate (23 percent) was the second most common form of political participation, just behind monetary donations (25 percent).  Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed made monetary donations online, with social media serving as a major driver of online giving.  Nineteen percent made donations directly through Facebook. 

Overall, 29 percent said social media influenced their opinions of the candidates and issues.  Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) said the quality of information about the candidates and issues available via social media was the same or better as the information available from traditional media outlets. 

Approximately 40 percent participated in political discussion via social media.  The vast majority of those surveyed, 72 percent, do not display their party affiliation on their social media accounts.  It appears conversation is the primary way social media users identify politically.  Although social media users seem adverse to labels there is still an element of social pressure at work. Nineteen percent of those surveyed defriend, block or hide connections because of their political views. 

To view the complete report click here

Danielle Ford is a Marketing Communications Strategist in Kean University's Office of University Relations.