Cable TV remains most popular election news source

Nathan Pensky · February 7, 2012 · Short URL:

Online election news leveling off, all other news media formats except cable TV in decline

Even though it seems everyone is online 24/7, when it comes to politics and elections, cable wins out.

A new study from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press show that cable television remains the most-watched source of 2012 Presidential election news.

With the November election coming up, news sources are widely covering the election beat. However, since an incumbent President will be on the ballots this year, and no other viable third-party candidate has emerged, election coverage been focused around only one party, which translates for relatively fewer people showing interest in the Presidential election than four years ago.

Pew reports that, as a result of this fact, fewer people are getting their election news from network and local news, and that even interest in online news, which tripled between 2000 and 2008, has leveled off. In fact, cable has remained the most consistent source over the past four election cycles for news-hungry Americans.

Some 36% of Americans say that they get their election news from cable television, which is a marginal change from elections in 2008 and 2004. Compare that to signigificant decline in the number of people getting news from newspapers, just 20% in the current election against 31% in 2008 and 40% in 2000. Network and local news is also down, with only 26% currently getting their news from these sources as compared to 32% in 2008 and 45% in 2000.

Traditional news sources, i.e. local news and newspapers, have experienced declines in the election cycles for the past three elections, and this has been attributed mainly to the advent of online news sources. However, this is not the case with the 2012 election, as online news watching has levelled off as well this election cycle.

Rather, according to Pew, the recent decline in traditional news watching for this cycle can be attributed to general uninterest in the election from younger voters, who in the past three elections would have been flocking online. Younger voters are traditionally less interested in Republican candidates, which accounts their disinterest in the currently all-Republican primary cycle.

Over the month of January 2012, only 20% of Americans under the age of 30 followed election news closely, as compared with 31% of the same demographic in January 2008. In fact, Pew's study showed that on the weekend when Newt Gingrich unexpectedly won the South Carolina primary, Americans in the under-30 demo showed equal interest in this story as in SOPA/PIPA.

Almost one in three, or 29%, of the under-30 demographic are going online for election 2012 news, as opposed to 42% in 2008.

Also, interestingly social networking is being used at a strikingly low rate, in terms of Americans learning about election news. Only 20% of Americans say they "regularly or sometimes" get election news from Facebook, and only 5% from Twitter.

More than half, or 52%, of Americans get their election news from websites or media apps, with 36% getting it only from news sources that are only available online. Of this number, most get this news from CNN, at 24%. The next highest online sources are Yahoo/Yahoo News, Google/Google News, and FOX News.

There is a merkedly higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats who believe "there is a great deal" of media biases in election news reportage, as would be expected. 49% of Republicans believe the media is biased in election coverage, as opposed to 32% of Democrats and 37% of the general population. All three of these demographics are up from 2008.

Tea Party Republicans took the cake in terms of the political affiliation that believed in media bias, coming in at a whopping 74%. This is more than double every other political demographic, including non-Tea Party Republicans, Independents, Moderate Democrats, and Liberal Democrats.

[Image Credit: Foreign Policy]

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