WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Political elections are increasingly effected by social media use, and some groups are thriving more than others.

According to Pew Research studies from the past year, 69 percent of adult Americans who are online use social networks – up 37 percent from the same survey in late 2008. Thirty-eight percent of surveyed Americans said they “like” or promote materials about politicians or candidates that they support on these networks.

Younger, more liberal people tend to use social media more than others.

The 18-29 year-old age range reported back that 92 percent use social media websites. A reported 79 percent of all social media users classified themselves as “liberals,” 70 percent identified as “moderates,” and 63 percent said they were “conservatives.”

Twitter users also appeared to exhibit “liberal” leanings. Twenty-five percent of Twitter users reported that they are “liberals,” compared with 10 percent who identified as “conservatives.” And the younger age group of 18-29 year olds is twice as likely to use Twitter as the next closest age group of people aged 30-49 years old.

Social media may also have unearthed political leanings that their friends never knew about beforehand.

Among users who reported their online friends post political content, 25 percent said they always agree or mostly agree with their friends’ political postings. But 73 percent “only sometimes” agree, or never agree. Thirty-eight percent of those who use social networking said that they discovered their friends’ political beliefs were different than previously believed because of social media.

Nine percent of social networking users have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone because they posted something about politics or issues that they disagreed with or found offensive.

As a whole, the Internet continues to grow rapidly as a platform for campaign news, but it still is less popular than cable TV. Since 2000, the Internet has quadrupled from 9 percent to 36 percent of the share of US adults who use it for campaign news. Cable news has held steady near 40 percent of that share over the past decade.


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