More than a quarter of American adults – 26% – used their cell phones to learn about or participate in the 2010 mid-term election campaign.
In a post-election nationwide survey of adults, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that 82% of adults have cell phones. Of those cell owners, 71% use their phone for texting and 39% use the phone for accessing the internet. With that as context, the Pew Internet survey found that:
- 14% of all American adults used their cell phones to tell others that they had voted.
- 12% of adults used their cell phones to keep up with news about the election or politics.
- 10% of adults sent text messages relating to the election to friends, family members and others.
- 6% of adults used their cells to let others know about conditions at their local voting stations on election day, including insights about delays, long lines, low turnout, or other issues.
- 4% of adults used their phones to monitor results of the election as they occurred.
- 3% of adults used their cells to shoot and share photos or videos related to the election.
- 1% of adults used a cell-phone app that provided updates from a candidate or group about election news.
- 1% of adults contributed money by text message to a candidate or group connected to the election like a party or interest group.
If a respondent said she or he had done any of those activities in the last campaign season, we counted that person in this 26% cohort. Throughout this report we call this group “mobile political users” or the “mobile political population.”
Some 71% of cell owners say they voted in the 2010 election, compared with 64% of the full adult population in this survey who say they voted. (Note: The overall reported turnout was about 40% in the election. It is common for post-election surveys to hear from a greater number of people who say they voted than was actually the case.) There was no partisan tilt in the makeup of the mobile political user population. They split their votes equally between Democratic and Republican congressional candidates – 44% to each. About 2% said they voted for other candidates and 10% didn’t answer the question or said they didn’t know. Generally, there were few partisan or ideological differences in way this group used their cell phones for politics.
In most cases, those ages 18-29 were more likely than those in older cohorts to use their cell phones for getting and sharing political information.