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USC study tracks the Internet’s rising political influence

The Internet assumes a more prominent role in political communication, study finds

by USC Annenberg staff
Daybreak Poll
The Daybreak Poll is a probability survey. (Graphic/USC News)

Move over, television — the Internet has become a driving force behind politics and political campaigns.

Large percentages of Americans now view the Internet as vital in key aspects of politics — conducting campaigns, generating political power and making elected officials more accountable — the Center for the Digital Future has found.

Based at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the study found that 74 percent of all respondents agree that the Internet has become important for political campaigns, up from 71 percent in the previous study and a new high for the Digital Future studies that began in 1999.

“The Internet has become a vitally important tool for users seeking political information during campaigns,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future and creator of the World Internet Project.

“Fifty years ago, television surpassed newspapers as the primary communication medium for people seeking information for political campaigns,” Cole said. “Now the Internet is assuming a much more prominent role in political communication — for learning more about candidates, for sharing political views, for mobilizing constituents and especially for fundraising.

“And we have found significant changes in the number of users who believe that the Internet can become a tool for political power and voter influence,” he added.

The findings on the political process are featured in a new edition of the center’s Digital Future Report, which has been produced annually since 2000. The 171-page report for 2015 explores more than 100 issues involving the impact of online technology in the United States.

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USC study tracks the Internet’s rising political influence

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