Survey: More voters following election news on phones, social media

The number of voters using their cell phones to keep tabs on political figures and election news has more than doubled since the 2010 midterm elections, according to a Pew Research Center survey released on Monday.

Some 28 percent of voters are using their cell phones to get political news during the 2014 midterm elections , compared with 13 percent in 2010, the survey found.

While four years ago it was mainly young voters between the ages of 18 and 29 using their smartphones to track campaign updates, the survey found that another age group has now completely caught up.

Some 40 percent of voters in their 30s and 40s are now using their cell phones to track candidates and issues during this year’s election campaigns, compared with 15 percent in 2010, the survey found . This rate almost matches that of 18-29 year olds.

The number of Americans who follow political figures on Facebook and Twitter to receive their updates has also doubled since the last midterm elections.

While the survey shows that voters of both parties are almost equally likely to follow politicians on social media, it found that Republicans put more importance on following their candidates in order to get news more quickly from a direct source. They perceive the updates they get from political figures on social media to be more reliable than traditional news outlets, the survey found.

Voters who follow political candidates on social media also tend to be more engaged in election campaigns compared with those who don’t. They are more likely to donate to a campaign and to spread the word by urging their friends to vote for a candidate or issue, the survey found . They are also more likely to volunteer for a campaign and attend its events.

The survey’s findings that “digital politics” increasingly go hand in hand with other types of campaign engagement suggests that candidates will need to step up their tech-savvy strategies if they want to draw voters to their campaigns in coming election cycles.

Pew conducted the survey of 2003 adults, including 1,494 registered voters, from Oct. 15-20.