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12/23/2010
01:58 PM
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Voters Used Cell Phones For Election News

Younger, more affluent people were more inclined to use wireless devices to share information about November's midterm vote, finds Pew study.

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Cell phones played a role in the November elections and their users were generally evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, according to a report issued this week by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.

Users utilized their mobile phones in a variety of ways ranging from telling others they had voted (14%), getting election news (12%), texting about the election (10%), and informing others of conditions at voting stations (6%).

The study of 2,257 adults, of whom 1,918 had cell phones, said voter traits generally tracked the U.S. population. "The mobile political user group is more male than female, more young than old, better off financially than less well-off, and better educated than less well-educated," according to the report.

The reports' authors, Lee Rainie and Aaron Smith, also sought to learn the impact, if any, attributed to the rise of the Tea Party movement, which came to dominate much of the news coverage of the election. Attitudes on the Tea Party were evenly divided, with 34% saying they agreed or strongly agreed with the Tea Party and 32% saying they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the movement.

"The wireless political user cohort does not tilt in a clear partisan direction," the report authors wrote. Of those voting, 44% voted for their Republican candidate and 44% voted for their Democratic candidate.

Noting that younger, more affluent people tended to favor Democratic candidates by a small margin, the authors found that respondents voting for Democratic candidates were more likely to use their cell phones for campaign-related activities by a 26% to 19% margin.

The authors also found a disconnect in their survey. "Somewhat surprisingly," they said, "21% of those who used their cell phones to learn about or participate in politics did not end up voting in the election."

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