Not surprisingly, Americans are using cell phones to track political news


Josh Peterson |

WASHINGTON, D.C. — To the surprise of few, Americans are increasingly using cell phones, smartphones and social media to track political news.

CELL PHONE POLITICS: Americans are increasingly using cell phones, smartphones, and social media to follow political candidates and consume political news, according to a new study.

A study, published by the Pew Research Internet Project the day before the midterms, found — again, not surprisingly — that more and more Americans are using their cell phones to track political news, the study notes.

In January, Pew reported 90 percent of American adults own a cell phone, and 58 percent own a smartphone.

According to a recent study conducted by GSMA, an association of mobile operators, the United States ranked second in the world after China in the second quarter of 2014 for the number of smartphone connections — 196.8 million.

“Some 28 (percent) of registered voters have used their cell phone this year to keep up with news relating to the election or political events, which represents a two-fold increase compared with the most recent midterm election cycle,” writes Aaron Smith, the study’s author and senior researcher at Pew Research Center’s Internet Project.

The Pew study found American adults, both Republican and Democrat voters, are also more likely to follow political candidates on social media as a source of political news, and are more likely to be politically engaged.

The findings shed additional light on Pew’s findings on political polarization in the country, published this summer, which found that not only was the nation more politically polarized by way of ideology and partisanship, but also by engagement.

“A substantial majority of Americans use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and 16 (percent) of registered voters now use these sites to follow candidates for office, political parties, or elected officials,” said Smith.

“This represents a more than two-fold increase from the previous midterm election in 2010, when just 6 (percent) of registered voters followed political candidates or groups on social media,” said Smith.

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