More Americans follow politicians on social media

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This week, the White House launched @POTUS, which is the commander-in-chief’s official Twitter handle.

“Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account,” said Obama in his first tweet.

The move came as the next logical step for an administration that embraces social media – a platform that plays an increasing role in how Americans get political information.

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center during the lead-up to the 2014 midterm election showed that 16 per cent of registered voters follow elected officials, political parties, or candidates for office on social networking sites. The figure is a significant increase from the 6 per cent of voters who did so during the 2010 midterms.

This trend is not only evident among younger voters; the number of voters aged 30 to 49 following politicians on social media more than tripled from 6 per cent to 21 per cent.

Of those who follow politicians, 41 per cent cited breaking news as the key reason for doing so; this is up from 2010’s 22 per cent.

Some of the registered voters who follow political figures on social networking sites said they do so in order to bypass traditional journalism. In fact, 26 per cent believe that the information found on a politician’s social media account is more reliable than that provided by traditional news organisations.

Meanwhile, 35 per cent of voters say that following political figures on social media makes them feel more connected to the politician.

The evolving way American voters connect with politicians is particularly notable given the upcoming 2016 presidential election. To date, many candidates, including Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Hillary Clinton, have used social networking sites to discuss or announce their intention to run for president.

 


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