TV still the top source for election results, but digital platforms rise

TV still the top source for election results, but digital platforms rise

TV still the top source for election results, but digital platforms rise

The FINANCIAL -- A substantial majority of U.S. voters – 84% – followed along as results trickled in on election night, and television was by far their most common way of tracking returns.

Nearly nine-in-ten of those who followed returns (88%) did so on TV, while 48% used online platforms. About one-in-five (21%) used social networks such as Twitter or Facebook, according to a Pew Research Center post-election survey.

The share of voters who tracked election returns on TV was similar to the share who did so during the last presidential election (92% in 2012, 88% this year). On the other hand, digital sources have gained ground. The share of voters who followed returns online increased by 14 percentage points since 2012 (from 34% to 48%), while the share who tracked results using a social networking site more than doubled (from 8% to 21%).

Younger adults were especially likely to have turned to online sources on election night. Fully 79% of voters under the age of 35 who followed the election returns did so online – identical to the share of young adults who followed them on TV. Additionally, 41% of this group followed along on social media. By comparison, just 19% of voters ages 65 and older who followed election returns did so online, and just 7% of these older voters turned to social media. 

Although TV remained the most popular source for election news, a growing share of voters opted to supplement their TV viewing by “dual-screening” with online sources: 37% of voters who followed the election returns used both television and the web, up from 27% in 2012. Conversely, the share of voters who followed the election results only on television fell by 14 points (from 65% to 51%). And although relatively few voters who tracked the returns said they did so only on the internet, that share has nearly doubled since 2012: This year, around one-in-ten voters who followed the returns (11%) did so only online.

Again, these experiences greatly differ by age: 50% of voters under age 50 who followed election returns followed them on TV as well as online, but that share drops to 26% among voters 50 and older. And while 68% of those over 50 who followed returns said they only did so by watching TV, that compares with just 28% of those under 50.

In addition to surveying voters on the types of platforms they used to watch election results, Pew Research Center also asked with whom voters watched the returns. A majority of voters who kept up with election returns (79%) did so by themselves or with family, while 14% reported they followed along with friends, and 6% watched with both friends and family.