Some 7% of online voters say they are likely to change their vote before the election, and the types of sites they select for political information after internet searches determine the likelihood of an opinion change, according to a recent study by Didit.
The report “2008 Search Engines and Politics: A Study of Attitudes and Influence,” finds that online voters rely heavily on news sites, candidates’ websites and search engines for election information; the study explores the relationship between online search behavior, participants’ political attitudes/preferences and the likelihood of opinion changes based on search advertising.
The survey found that online sources are among the top three media choices for election information for 80% of online voters.
Among these online voters, 44% use search engines to find election-related information, and more than a quarter also say they use sponsored links that appear in search-engine results pages.
A measurable correlation exists between links that respondents selected after entering a search and the probability of a change of opinion about a candidate, Didit finds.
When choosing which site to select from a search-engine-results page…
According to Didit’s analysis, these results show that bidding on opposition-related keywords can have a slight effect, and that praising oneself could be more persuasive than denigrating the opposition. They also show that searchers who prefer to visit only sites that favor the candidate of their choice are not likely to change their opinions, and those who visit sites that oppose the other candidate are doing so for inoculation purposes and to reinforce beliefs they already hold.
“With no restrictions on how much an individual or political action committee can spend buying search terms, and no record of who is buying the ads, the candidate with the most sound search strategy could end up swaying the remaining undecided voters and winning the 2008 election,” stated Kevin Lee, CEO and cofounder of Didit.
About the survey: The survey, reached via a sponsored link, was completed by 1,447 participants. More than 95% of participants are already registered to vote in the upcoming election.
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