Smartphones: A Key to Expanding Contact with Younger Voters and Hispanics?

As mobile phones become more prevalent and technologically advanced, the interaction adults and voters have with their phones is becoming more important for campaigns to tap into.  Recent studies have found that among adults with smartphones…

  • Users keep their phone within about ten feet of them 84% of the day
  • On average, users look at their phones 150 times per day
  • 44% of users keep their phones next to their beds while sleeping

Earlier this year, the Pew Internet Project released some key findings ( from a national poll of adults that found 90% of adults have a cell phone, and 58% own a smartphone such as an iPhone or Android device.  While the number of adults with a cell phone has hit a ceiling over the last two years (87% of adults had a cell phone in February of 2012), more adults have smartphones, up from 45% in February of 2012 and 35% in 2011.

Not surprisingly, younger adults are more likely to have adapted to this new technology than their older counterparts:


Have Cell Phone

Have Smartphone













At the same time, Hispanics are the ethnic group that has led the charge towards adapting to smartphone use, as many use their smartphones in place of a personal computer or laptop for their internet access:


Have Cell Phone

Have Smartphone




African American






For political campaigns, this data demonstrates the value of being able to reach these voters via their smartphones: each year, more Americans will have these devices.  With about one-third (33%) of all internet activity being done on a mobile device, campaigns must develop user-friendly mobile sites, as chances are voters will increasingly access their campaign sites via their smartphone.  (And, with more voters second-screening while watching TV at home, this provides a new avenue to reach them as they may be ignoring campaign ads on TV.)

Finding innovative ways to reach out to younger voters and Hispanics via their smartphones (two of the hardest demographics to reach using traditional means) can help Republican campaigns make in-roads with these groups.

Recent data estimates that 60% of all social media use is performed via a smartphone or tablet (  So, if a voter is viewing a campaign’s Facebook or Twitter page, chances are they are accessing it via a mobile device.  A campaign must able to take advantage of this interaction.

Campaigns must be able to communicate with voters on these devices in a way that will grab their attention – today’s tele-town halls could become group video chats on smartphones in the near future, among other things.  A successful campaign should always be finding new methods to reach voters, and the smartphone will be a driving force in campaign contact in the fall of 2014 and beyond.


Public Opinion Strategies