Majority of US voters say politics has no place on social media | FIU News


Most Americans say they avoid political discussions online and are split on whether they think politicians, including the president, should use social media to communicate with voters.

In a national survey of 1,000 eligible voters, researchers from the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs at CRF and the University of South Florida found that an overwhelming majority of voters (83% ) said they “post occasionally” or “never post”. about politics on their personal social media platforms.

According to the January poll by FIU political science doctoral candidate Bethany Bowra and Stephen Neely, an associate professor in USF’s School of Public Affairs, they also had strong opinions about others.

A majority said they had ‘disliked’ or ‘unfollowed’ someone in the past six months for posting political content they disagreed with (57%), and an overwhelming majority said they had ‘disliked’ or ‘not followed’ someone for posting political ideas that they found morally wrong (80%) or wrong (81%).

When it comes to politicians’ use of social media, Americans were more divided, the survey found.

A slight majority (55%) said it was an “effective tool” for the president to communicate with the public. However, 54% said they were “uncomfortable” with members of Congress communicating with voters via online platforms, and an even larger majority (65%) were uncomfortable with members of Congress. legislators communicating with other elected officials via social media.

“As social media continues to infiltrate virtually every aspect of society, politicians are using it more frequently; but this survey shows that most Americans are not thrilled with this change and would rather politicians not communicate through social media,” said Bowra, whose research spans the presidency, Congress and political communication at the digital age.

“It challenges many current perceptions of effective political communication and opens the door to further questions about the role of social media in politics to come,” she added. “As the midterm approaches, politicians and parties are scrambling to win over voters. Information about voter communication preferences could play an important role in the outcome of the November election and beyond.

The social media questions were part of a larger survey that reached out to public opinion on political issues, including the pandemic and presidential approval of jobs, electoral reform and attitudes towards political parties.

Among other key findings:

  • Most Americans feel unrepresented by major political parties. More than half of voters surveyed said they believed their views were not represented by either Democratic or Republican parties, and many held negative views of political parties in general.
  • About a third of Americans say they are satisfied with each party’s ideologies. Thirty percent said the Democratic Party was “suitably liberal” and 33% said the Republican Party was “suitably conservative.” However, they disagreed on each party’s appropriate direction moving forward.
  • Voters are divided on the traits they attribute to members of the two main political parties, but they see members of both parties as hypocrites. Qualities such as honesty, generosity and morality were attributed to Democrats and Republicans fairly evenly among voters of both parties. However, 58% of Americans viewed voters from both parties as hypocrites.
  • Most Americans don’t follow elected officials on social media. A large majority said they do not follow the president (87%), his governor (88%) or his members of Congress (90%) on any social media platform.

CRF Professor Kevin Evans, who directs the graduate program in political science at CRF, said he was delighted to see Bowra apply the tools learned in class to shed light on issues relating to political life. contemporary.

“In many ways, social media represents a new public sphere where politicians and ordinary people can interact directly,” said Evans, who is Bowra’s doctoral dissertation supervisor. “Bethany helps us better understand the possibility and danger of online political communication.”

The CRF/USF survey was conducted using a representative sample of 1,000 eligible U.S. voters adjusted for age, gender, race, ethnicity, education and of political affiliation. Results are reported with a 95% confidence level and a margin of error of +/- 3.1.

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