Americans tracking politics via Internet

David Lightman
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama is the darling of the ever-expanding Internet community -- but that doesn't mean he's automatically got a huge advantage over Republican rival John McCain in the general election.

"Democrats and Obama backers are more in evidence on the Internet than backers of other candidates or parties," according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project study released Sunday.

But Republicans are Web-active, too.

"There are few differences (among supporters of both parties) on basic measures such as using the Internet or going on line to look for political news and information," the report said.

Still, Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, starts the campaign with some unquestionable technological edges.

"Wired Democrats are outpacing online Republicans in their usage of the Internet for political reasons," the Pew study said, "from social networking to watching online video to contributing money online or signing up for campaign-related e-mail." The project interviewed 2,251 adults between April 8 and May 11. The error margin was 2 percent for the entire sample and 3 percent for Internet users alone., which tracks political Internet trends, had similar findings. Its data show that Obama has about seven times as many Facebook supporters as McCain and about 10 times as many YouTube hits.

But the numbers, experts said, could be skewed because Obama was in a tough nomination battle that ended only about a week ago, his core support was younger voters who tend to be more Internet-savvy, and voter sentiment is tilting Democratic this year anyway.

Micah Sifry, editor of, said the online activity is "not necessarily a reflection of what's going on in the entire country."

Where McCain could be worried, said Sifry, is that Obama has proven to be a strong Internet candidate because he's an outsider with a clear message. But that doesn't necessarily mean he'll win in November; after all, Republican Ron Paul was an Internet favorite this year for the same reasons but got nowhere.

Obama's Internet savvy also gives him a grassroots network that McCain may have to develop.

The Pew study found that Obama backers are more likely than McCain backers to sign an online petition, seek e-mails from campaigns, give money online and volunteer for the campaign.

While the political power of the Internet to sway votes remains unproven, Pew did find a trend that has had impact already this year-many major campaign developments have been Internet-driven.

Internet sites broke news about Obama's labeling small-town people "bitter," the video featuring his controversial former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and sermons by preacher John Hagee, a McCain supporter.

The survey found that 46 percent of all adults are using the Internet, e-mail or phone text messaging for political purposes. Forty percent said they look for campaign information online, up from 31 percent four years ago.

"Campaigns are seeing that control of the message is no longer possible," said Sifry.

[Read the Pew reports]

[See techPresident campaign data]





Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".


On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.


Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.


That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.


Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.


Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.


Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.


'Thor: Ragnorak' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.


Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.


Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings Team for Wonderfully Sparse "Where Or When" (premiere)

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings' "Where Or When" is a wonderfully understated performance that walks the line between pop and jazz.


Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.