Poll: Voters increasingly following politics on phones, social media

Voters are increasingly using smartphones and social media to keep up with the midterm elections, according to a Pew Research poll released Monday.  

Twenty-eight percent of registered voters use their phones to keep up with election news, according to the poll, while 16 percent report following candidates or political parties on social media. 

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Those numbers double or nearly triple the totals from the 2010 elections. At that time, 13 percent of voters reported using their cellphone to keep up with election news, while only 6 percent said they followed candidates or parties on social media.

The biggest increase in use has come from voters ages 30 to 49. 

The spike has followed an increase in use of social media and smartphones overall. Pew found that 58 percent of adults have smartphones today, while 74 percent of adults with access to the Internet have social media accounts, like Facebook or Twitter. 

Democrats, Republicans and independents report using social media to follow candidates at nearly the same rates — between 15 percent and 18 percent. 

While 32 percent of independents report using their phones to follow election news, 29 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of Republicans do the same. 

The largest reason people report following political figures on social media is to find out about political news first (41 percent). Other reasons include feeling a personal connection with the candidate or group (35 percent) or to avoid the filter of traditional news organizations (26 percent). 

The poll surveyed 2,003 people from Oct. 15-20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent.