Bloomberg News

Obama, Romney Supporters Tout Favorites Online, Pew Reports

November 06, 2012

Many Americans Sharing Who They Voted for Online, Study Says

While U.S. citizens are guaranteed by law that their vote will be kept private, the study shows that in the era of social networking, many are choosing not to keep it secret. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

At least one in five registered U.S. voters have told others via social networking how they voted in today’s national election, according to a study published by the Pew Research Center.

Voters under 50 are more likely to do so, Pew Research said, Bloomberg.com reported on its Tech Blog. Another practice is to use Facebook Inc. (FB:US), Twitter Inc. (TWTR:US) or another social network to encourage friends and family to vote, which 20 percent of voters have done, according to the study, which surveyed 861 registered voters Nov. 1-4.

While U.S. citizens are guaranteed by law that their vote will be kept private, the study shows that in the era of social networking, many are choosing not to keep it secret. As more Americans take their political discourse online, campaigners for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have been targeting search engine and social-media site users.

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Social-media sites have become “a notable venue for people to try to convince their friends to vote,” the study said.

On Twitter, where users share messages with as many as 140 characters in length, mentions of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden exceeded those of Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan in most states, according to University of Oxford researchers.

Of the 48 contiguous U.S. states, 40 mentioned Obama or Biden in Twitter posts more often, 7 mentioned Romney or Ryan more often, while the results were tied in one state, Montana, according to the Oxford Internet Institute. An interactive map illustrates the data, with a state-by-state breakdown.

Online Campaigns

Campaigns seeking to woo voters online have adopted an advertising tactic referred to as brand hijacking. People who type one candidate’s name into Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s search box in some markets have seen ads for his opponent. A search for “Barack Obama,” for instance, has yielded ads for Romney, while entering “Mitt Romney” has resulted in ads for Obama. Romney has used a similar tactic on Facebook.

Used by companies for years to market wares to Web users searching for information on competitors, the approach is designed to help the candidates raise awareness among users of the Web or social networks.

Among Obama’s supporters, 25 percent have let others know their preference via social networks, while 20 percent of Romney’s supporters have done so. That difference isn’t statistically significant, the Pew study said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Milian in San Francisco at mmilian@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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