What Your Web Browsing Habits Say About How You Will Vote

Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 10:21 AM

Listen to podcasts? You're more likely to be liberal and to vote. Play fantasy football? You may or may not vote, but chances are very high that you're Republican. These are just a few of the broad conclusions that were gleaned from volumes of consumer data about browsing habits, political leanings and voter turnouts.

Data from Scarborough, analysis and graphic courtesy Will Feltus and Tracey Robinson, National Media Research Planning & Placement, Via Washington Post

The data was collected by market research firm Scarborough and looked over by a Republican advertising firm called National Media Research Planning & Placement. And while some of the results confirm stereotypes (people who browse for financial info skew Republican and tend to vote in large numbers, younger users searching personal ads and college course information skew democrat and tend not to vote), there is some interesting information.

First, mobile users tend to vote less, because they are likely to be younger. Social networking on a phone leans Democrat while on a computer leans republican. Interest in local media (like community events sites and local radio stations are heavily Democrat, while National News is much more republican. Gamers are bipartisan, but they don't vote that much.

The information is prima facie interesting, but the fact that we got it from a market research firm adds a thin layer of cynicism to the whole thing. Since this research was conducted as yet another way to better target marketing, as a gamer I find myself anticipating get out the vote campaigns in Angry Birds.

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Comments [1]

In that this is similar to many other demographic breakdowns that have been used in political campaigns going back decades. Whether it was based on magazine subscriptions, census block data, voting history, etc, this has been going on for awhile. A main difference, besides the immediacy and volume, is that finally, we as citizens can express our interests openly and form our own coalitions around interest.

Being pigeonholed as a certain type of voter based on information has always been imperfect, but for campaign advertising which even when micro-targeting, is not overly concerned if the targeting is somewhat scattershot.

May. 15 2014 01:26 PM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. You can subscribe to our podcast here. You can follow our blog here. We’re also on Twitter, and we play Team Fortress 2 more or less constantly, so find us there if you like to communicate via computer games from six years ago.

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