3:30pm January 3, 2011

Politics Goes Mobile: New Methods of Campaigning


Political campaigns are grounded in the art of outreach and persuasion.  Traditional message delivery methods consist of using television, mail, and land line phones to reach people.  That is all changing as politics goes digital.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life study, Politics Goes Mobile, “More than a quarter of American adults – 26% – used their cell phones to learn about or participate in the 2010 mid-term election campaign.”

As noted in the study:

  • 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.”

These numbers are certain to improve as more and more people take advantage of convenience in the digital age.  For example, according a previous Pew study, from December 2008 to May 2010, 26% more adults began using social media regularly.  In the U.S., television air time is the most expensive buy for political campaign efforts, but mobile phones and digital media will certainly take out a slice of the pie as campaigns move to persuade the rising numbers of people using digital media.

About the Author

Britton Loftin
Britton Loftin is a Political Strategist and Director of a Legislative & Government Affairs firm.


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  1. JCraig

    Great news for how our elected officials can get their message out, especially with so many African Americans giving up landlines for cell phone at home.

  2. S. Witter

    I think increased civic engagement of any kind should be applauded. It's true that many minorities rely on mobile broadband for access to online news or information, so this type of digital outreach is going to be extremely helpful in 2012.

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