January 5, 2003

The Internet and Campaign 2002

WASHINGTON — More Americans used the Internet to get news on the 2002 elections than during the last midterm campaign four years ago. Much of this increase has come from the overall growth of the online population, but a higher proportion of Internet users sought election news than did so four years ago (22% now, 15% in 1998).

A new nationwide survey of 2,745 adults conducted jointly by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Internet and American Life Project found a significant increase in the number of election news consumer who go online for information on candidate positions on the issues. Nearly eight-in-ten (79%) did this in 2002, up from 69% in 2000.

The survey also showed that websites of major news organizations, like CNN and the New York Times, continue to be the leading sources of online campaign news. Roughly half of election news consumers said they went most often to these sites.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of Americans (66%) continue to rely on television for most of their information about the elections. Significantly, local TV news outpaced network and cable outlets as the leading TV source for campaign news in 2002, reflecting the local character of the midterm elections.