FROM: Julie Hootkin, Global Strategy Group & Robert Blizzard, Public Opinion Strategies
As we enter the final weeks of the 2016 election, undecided voters continue to struggle to make sense of this wild election cycle and are looking for facts online to inform their choices on Election Day. According to a survey of 500 persuadable likely voters in Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania conducted between October 13 and October 18, 2016 by Global Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies, persuadable voters in these key Senate battleground states are actively engaged with the election as they make their final voting decisions – decisions that may ultimately sway the makeup of the U.S. Senate. 1
KEY SURVEY FINDINGS:
- The internet is an increasingly important resource for information about the election. While television remains a critical resource for information about the election (52% get most of their news about the election on TV, -8 points since 2012), the media mix continues to shift as voters are relying more and more on the internet to stay up-to-date on races for President and U.S. Senate (27%, +4pts). Four in 10 persuadable voters report spending no time at all watching any live TV in a given week (40%) and three in 10 (29%) report having watched no live TV about the election this cycle, true across age groups, from millennials (29%) to older voters 55+ (34%). Further, 73% of persuadable voters own a smartphone.
Persuadable voters are increasingly active on the internet. Nearly two-thirds of persuadable voters (64%) have searched for information online about candidates’ voting record or positions this election cycle, including 31% searching at least weekly, up from 26% in 2012. Similarly, more than six in 10 persuadable voters (62%) have watched a video online about the candidates or the elections, including 41% watching it at least weekly, up from 27% in 2012. More than half (52%) have watched video content on YouTube specifically, and among daily users of the site, 44% have watched election related video content three times a day or more.
Persuadable voters are going online to fact check candidates and the press. Not surprisingly given the unprecedented and sometimes scandalous assertions and developments during this election, half of persuadable voters have fact checked things they have heard in the media (50%) as well as things they have heard from the candidates (50%) this cycle. Further, more than four in 10 persuadable voters have used the internet to fact check outrageous claims made by Donald Trump (44%) and Hillary Clinton (42%). And significant majorities of them used online sources to do so; 77% looked on news websites, 65% looked on fact checking websites, 65% viewed online videos relating to what they heard, and 63% searched on Google.
Persuadable voters are tuning into the debates and are utilizing a second screen while watching. Three-quarters of the persuadable electorate (76%) have watched at least one of the debates live. Of the persuadable voters watching the debates, one-third (33%) used a second screen to do other things online. Persuadable voters used their second screens to verify information they were hearing during the debate (57% went online during a debate to see what fact checkers were saying and 54% went online to personally fact check the things candidates were saying), but also to check social media (62%), browse non-debate related websites (51%), to learn more about something they heard about for the first time (50%), or to see what their friends were saying about the debate (41%).
1 Persuadable likely voters are defined as those voters who are currently undecided in the Presidential and/or U.S. Senate races or those who indicate they may change their mind in advance of Election Day.