January 30, 2005

The internet and election night

November 2, 2004 was one of those rare times in nation life when a majority of citizens were doing the same thing. Our post-election survey with the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press showed that 57% of all Americans followed election returns that evening (40% said they waited till the next day to get the results).

The vast majority of those who did follow the returns on Election Night turned on their televisions — 96% said they did that. Another 15% also said they listened to the radio. And 11% of internet users, a group that comprises over 6% of all Americans, said they followed some Election Night events online.

Election Night was a communal event in another way: 46% of those who followed the returns that evening said they talked about the results with someone living outside their home.

In many cases they had multiple conversations: 53% of those Election Night conversationalists had a phone chat, 51% had a face-to-face conversation; and 10% were commenting on the results via email or instant messages.

This capped a campaign season where 36% of internet users talked about the candidates and issues in emails at some point during the election.