Voters Say TV Holds Greatest Sway Over Their Decisions

March 7, 2012

cab-voters-decisions-influences-mar-2012.jpg32% of registered voters say that what they hear or see on TV has the greatest influence on their decision to vote for a specific candidate and/or issue, beating out what they read in newspapers/magazines (23%), word-of-mouth, neighbors, family, and friends (18%), and town hall/public meetings (17%)according to [pdf] a report released in February 2012 by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau (CAB). Just 3% say that comments on social media have the greatest influence on their voting decisions, although that proportion rises to 7% among 18-34-year-olds.

Overall, when voting for or about national political candidates and issues, 64% of survey respondents said that TV influences their final decision, putting the medium ahead of the internet (40%), newspaper (37%), word-of-mouth (27%), and radio (19%). 14% says social media plays a part, while less than 1 in 10 said the same about direct mail. TV’s dominance is consistent across age levels, race and ethnicities, and gender.

TV Tops for Info, Too

TV is also by far the most popular way to both learn about national political candidates and issues, and to keep up to date about them. 85% of respondents said they are likely to first learn about political candidates and issues from TV, outpacing the internet (54%), and newspaper (49%). Similarly, 82% indicated TV helps keep them up to date with candidates and issues, ahead of the internet (55%) and newspaper (47%).

Most Prefer Cable

When asked to select which they prefer to receive information about national candidates and issues, voters overwhelmingly favored cable over broadcast for awareness (71% vs. 29%), keeping up to date (70% vs. 30%), and influencing their final voting decisions (72% vs. 28%).

The preference shown towards cable TV is reflected by results from a survey released in February 2012 by the Pew Research Center. According to those results, cable news networks rank as the top source of political campaign information among Americans, with 36% saying they regularly get their political campaign news from this source, ahead of local TV news (32%), network news (26%), the internet (25%), and the local paper (20%).

Young Adults Find Political Ads on TV Informative

cab-political-tv-ads-attitudes-mar-2012.jpgData from CAB’s “Election Media – How Voters Decide” indicates that adults aged 18-34 are as or more likely than to agree with various statements regarding political TV ads than the general population. Both groups agree that they typically notice political ads on TV (61%) and that political TV ads help them understand what a candidate stands for (~43%). However, those aged 18-34 are 17% more likely than the general population average to agree that political TV ads do a good job of reminding them of the upcoming election (61% vs. 52%), 28% more likely to say political TV ads help keep them informed (46% vs. 36%), and 13% more likely to say an ad has prompted them to search for more information on the internet (43% vs. 38%).

These findings stand somewhat in contrast to results from a Newspaper Association of America (NAA) survey released in February 2012, which found that voters find political ads most annoying on local TV (54%), network TV (50%), and cable TV (43%). Interestingly, the NAA survey found that younger voters display a lesser propensity than their elderly counterparts to be annoyed by political ads on local TV and network TV, but just as likely to be annoyed by political ads on cable TV.

About the Data: CAB commissioned Research Now / Peter Hart research to conduct Political Pulse 2012, a snapshot poll taken over one week in November 2011 using information from 500 respondents from a randomly selected national internet panel. All survey respondents were registered voters A18+.

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