On April 15th, The Pew Internet & American Life project released a study about the role the Internet campaign played in the 2008 elections, which was in correlation with other studies and surveys they did during the campaign. The full PDF report is 90+ pages, but it's totally worth the read, and it has lots of very helpful graphs and charts. Some highlights from the findings:
* Nearly one in five (18%) internet users posted their thoughts, comments or questions about the campaign on an online forum such as a blog or social networking site.
* Fully 45% of internet users went online to watch a video related to the campaign.
* One in three internet users forwarded political content to others. Indeed, the sharing of political content (whether writing and commentary or audio and video clips) increased notably over the course of the 2008 election cycle. While young adults led the way in many political activities, seniors were highly engaged in forwarding political content to their friends and family members.
* Young voters continued to engage heavily in the political debate on social networking sites. Fully 83% of those age 18-24 have a social networking profile, and two-thirds of young profile owners took part in some form of political activity on these sites in 2008.
* More than half the adult population were online political users in the 2008 election.
* As the online political news audience has grown, the importance of the internet has increased relative to other news sources.
* Politically-active internet users are moving away from news sites with no point of view to sites that match their political views, and this is especially true among younger voters.
* Obama voters took a leading role engaging in online political activism this election cycle. (this one is pretty interesting, because as they said, "Supporters of Republican presidential candidate John McCain were more likely than backers of Barack Obama to be internet users (83% vs. 76%). This reflects the fact that McCain supporters and Republicans in general have higher amounts of education and income than Democrats – and those are two of the strongest predictors of internet use. However, online Obama supporters took part in a wider range of online political activities—from posting their own thoughts and comments about the election online to going online to volunteer for campaign activities or donate money.")
* Nearly one in five internet users belongs to the online political participatory class.
* Young Americans engage most deeply in the online political process, but online political involvement is something all generations do to some extent.
* Technology helped Americans to navigate the voting process and share their experiences at the polls.
Those are just a few of the findings, there's a lot of others in there that either seemed kind of obvious, or really surprised me (especially internet usage patterns of older adults and seniors).
You can read the study online, or you can download the PDF, which I'd recommend. Well worth a read.
(and now back to the aforementioned paper...)