As of late September, 88% of registered voters own a cell phone of some kind—and significant numbers of these voters are using their mobile devices to get information about the 2012 election, to interact with the campaigns, and to converse with other voters about political issues:
—27% of registered voters who own a cell phone have used their phone in this election campaign to keep up with news related to the election itself or to political issues in general.
—Three quarters of these cell-owning registered voters use their phone to send or receive text messages, and within this group:
- 19% have sent text messages related to the campaign to friends, family members, or others
- 5% have signed up to receive text messages directly from a candidate or other group involved in the campaign
- 5% say that they have received unwanted election-related text messages that they did not sign up to receive
Smartphone owners are using their mobile devices as a tool for political participation on social networking sites and as a way to fact check campaign statements in real time. Roughly half (48%) of registered voters who own a cell phone say that they have a smartphone, and within this group:
- 45% have used their smartphone to read other people’s comments on a social networking site about a candidate or the campaign in general
- 35% have used their smartphone during this election campaign to look up whether something they just heard about a candidate or the campaign in general was true or not
- 18% have used their smartphone to post their own comments on a social networking site about a candidate or the campaign in general
About the Survey
These findings are based on a nationally representative phone survey of 1,005 adults (ages 18+) conducted September 20-23, 2012. Interviews were conducted in English on landline and cell phones. The sample contained 872 cell phone owners, 731 of whom are registered voters, who were asked questions about using their cell phone for political activities during the 2012 election campaign. The margin of error for the full sample is ± 3.7 percentage points. The margin of error for cell phone owners who are registered to vote is ±4.3 percentage points.