December 30, 2008

Many in Obama’s army are ready to translate their campaign participation into direct engagement with the new administration

WASHINGTON, DC, December 30, 2008 – After a presidential election in which voters increasingly went online to mobilize others and take part in the political debate, many of those who were active during the campaign expect to remain engaged with the incoming Obama Administration and mobilize others in support of his agenda. This is the key finding of a new national phone survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, which also found that:

  • 62% of Obama voters expect that they will encourage others to support the new administration’s policies during the upcoming year. 48% of these expect to do so in person, 25% expect to do so over the phone, and 16% expect to promote the new President’s agenda to others on the internet.
  • Among Obama voters who were involved online during the campaign, 25% say they plan to mobilize support for the administration’s policies by using the internet.

Obama supporters also want to remain in the loop as the new administration promotes its legislative agenda: nearly half (46%) of all Obama voters expect to hear directly from the new President or other officials as the incoming administration takes office. McCain voters also expect to hear from their own party in its opposition role—33% of McCain voters expect to stay in touch with the Republican Party or GOP officials moving forward. Still, Democratic voters have especially high hopes for using technology to stay connected with the Obama team:

  • 34% of Obama-supporting email users expect direct email communication from the new administration.
  • 37% of social network site users who support Obama expect to receive SNS updates.
  • 11% of phone texters expect to receive text messages from the new administration.

“The election may be over, but these voters want to hear directly from their leaders and they hope to remain part of the action,” said Aaron Smith, a Research Specialist with the Project and author of the report. “They plan to be in direct contact with the Administration and then carry those conversations back to their fellow citizens. This is a new kind of personal democracy.” Voters have also been going online since Election Day to keep up to date on the presidential transition process. Among Obama voters who use the internet:

  • 24% have visited a website affiliated with the transition effort.
  • 6% have signed up to receive email updates about the transition or the new administration.
  • 5% have joined or participated in email lists or online groups discussing the new administration.

“Voters have powerful expectations for the new administration, but they aren’t just waiting until inauguration day to get involved with the governing process,” said Smith. “They want to stay informed about transition process, and are working to make sure that their voices are being heard as the Obama team prepares to take office.” This report is based on a survey of 2,254 adults conducted between November 20, 2008 and December 4, 2008. The overall sample has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points. Some 1,591 in this sample are internet users and the margin of error in that cohort is three percentage points.