HPU Poll: What Registered Voters Search for Online Regarding Elections and Candidates

Voters say they most often search for candidates’ stances on the issues and previous political experience.


HIGH POINT, N.C., Oct. 8, 2020 – A new High Point University Poll asked registered voters in North Carolina what types of campaign-related information they search for on the internet.

More than two-thirds (68%) of registered voters with internet access say they look for information about a candidate’s stance on the issues. A majority (57%) say they look for information about a candidate’s previous political experience. Smaller percentages look for information about a candidate’s personal background (48%), go to websites that specialize in political news or opinion (47%), or access candidates’ official campaign websites (35%).

“Registered voters participating in this HPU Poll could get information from a variety of sources about the November election,” says Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct professor. “We wanted to see what type of information these voters are searching on the internet to learn more about the candidates.”

NC registered voters – Internet Access (September 2020)

Now I would like to ask you some questions about the internet. Do you have access to the internet through a computer at work, at home or some other place?

Yes – 92%

No – 6%

Don’t know/refused – 2%

(Registered voter sample from NC voter file, surveyed Sept. 11-30, 2020, n = 401 and margin of sampling error is +/- 6%) 

NC registered voters – Campaign Information from Internet (September 2020)

When you go online to get news or information about politics or elections, do you ever do any of the following things?

Note: Asked of the n=367 that said they have access to the internet

  Yes No (Don’t Know/

Refused)

Look for information about a candidate’s previous political experience 57 43 1
Look for information about a candidate’s personal background 48 52 1
Look for information about a candidate’s stance on the issues 68 32 1
Go to any of the websites that specialize in political news or opinion 47 52 1
Go to a candidate’s official campaign website 35 64 1

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers working remotely through the High Point University Survey Research Center, calling Sept. 11-30, 2020. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 401 registered voters interviewed on landline or cellular telephones. The Survey Research Center drew this sample from the voter file made public by the North Carolina State Board of Elections (https://www.ncsbe.gov/Public-Records-Data-Info/Election-Results-Data). The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.9 percentage points for registered voter respondents. Taking into account a design effect as a result of weighting, the adjusted margin of error is 6 percentage points. The data is weighted toward population (NC registered voters) estimates for age, gender, and race/ethnicity based on the parameters of the full voter file at the North Carolina State Board of Elections as well as education level based on US Census estimates. Factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls. Details from this survey are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2020/10/75memoA.pdf 

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/. The materials online include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

The HPU Poll reports methodological details in accordance with the standards set out by AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, and the HPU Survey Research Center is a Charter Member of the Initiative. For more information, see http://transparency.aapor.org/index.php/transparency.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, chair and associate professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald is the associate director of the HPU Poll.

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