Blog Post

How Political Ideologies Drive How We Gather Information


As you most likely know, political ideologies drive how we gather information. For example, some people turn to NPR or PBS and others prefer Fox News, Google News, CNN, etc. Since it’s election season and a lot of you will be voting in a few days, we wanted to break down how political ideologies drive how we gather information. In this Brown Bag, we discuss findings from a study by Pew Research, which outlines interesting statistics on politics in the U.S. and the Internet. Watch this Daily Brown Bag, you’ll learn how political ideologies impact how we gather information, where people are likely to seek out news, and how people of certain parties may differ on certain issues, such as whether or not they would defriend or block someone on Facebook, due to their political beliefs. You’ll also learn where small business marketing should concentrate their efforts when it comes to politics and the Internet.

Also available on YouTube.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Hello and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today, we're talking politics and the Internet. I'm Chad Hill and I'm joined by Adam Stetzer.

Good afternoon, Chad, and welcome to the Brown Bag. Yeah, this is a big topic and we're covering, Chad, some new data that comes from the Pew Research Institute and they've got just a whole host of numbers from the left, from the right and it's election season. We're all getting calls and surveys and I'm getting things left on my porch, you know, little brochures and people coming canvassing. We want to see what we can kind of understand here about the way politics and the Internet are starting to interact and how people consume news and think about news.

This study from Pew Research looked at quite a bit of data and they were interested in studying political polarization in the U.S. and they divided their participants up into five distinct groups, consistently liberal, mostly liberal, mixed, mostly conservative and consistently conservative. This is interesting, Chad. They found that those who are at the far left and the far right make up only about 20% of the population, so a rather small minority of the population, but those extremes have a bigger impact on politics than those who are in the moderate or mixed view bunch. These are the folks who are more likely to be active and participate in politics and to vote. They also are more likely to give financial contributions and follow politics closely and drive a lot of the discussions. Then, they further started to break down into these groups and what they were seeing in terms of behavior on the Internet. I think this is interesting. I'm going to look at the data, Chad, from the right and then maybe ask you for what we're seeing on the left, on the liberal side.

The far right group, these are the consistently conservative folks. 66% said that most of their friends share their political views, so they feel like they're around people who have very similar views. When they're on Facebook, they are more likely than any other group in the survey to see things that are consistent with their own views. That's interesting from a selective, what you read, confirmation bias, the psychologists often call it. Almost half, 47% had cited one source as their main source of news and that will be no surprise, was Fox News. Fox News is indeed the powerhouse for all the conservative groups in this survey. 30% of the mostly conservative group list Fox News as their main source of news. They also said they distrusted 24 out of the other 36 news sources in the survey, so a very large percentage, a lot of distrust and a lot of picking news that they already agree with.I’d be interested to hear what we're finding on the left.

In the left, it's similar. 52% said that most of their friends share their views but they were more likely than any other group to defriend or block someone on Facebook, at least, because of their political views. They actually also were more likely to end real-life friendships because of something what was actually said online. Unlike the far right, they don't necessarily have just one news source but it's ones that I think the far right tends to talk about. There's NPR, New York Times, MSNBC are the news groups for the far left. Then, in general, they have more trust, I think, in news sources in general, probably because a lot of the news sources are cited as being more liberal. They trust 28 of 36 of the news sources on the survey. Again, NPR, BBC and PBS are the most trusted. Of course, with that is that 81% said they distrust Fox News.

That's the left. In the middle, it's probably what you would expect. 25%, people were less likely to be sharing their views online. Only 25% said that most of their friends share their views. There is a much more mixed view on their Facebook feeds. In general, they trust a wider source of news sources. What’s interesting is it tended to be more of the aggregated news sources. CNN, local television stations, Google News, Yahoo! News, so chances are they're getting a more diverse mixture of news than just one or the other, as we already talked about.

Again, some very interesting findings here in the Pew study that just came out. I think that, in general, the takeaway for small business is that politics is probably not something, in general, that you want to incorporate into your content marketing. But then we're rolling in here to November 4th so, reminder to everyone to get out and vote whatever way you see fit. We encourage everyone to vote.

Yeah, that's well put, Chad. I think for most small business marketing, it's probably best to stay in the middle of the curve. You see that there are these extremes on each side, which tend to dominate the political conversation. You might be tempted to think you need to wade into that, but the bell curve in the data here from the Pew Research study shows you really don't have to. Your target market is probably comfortably in the middle and there's no reason to be too engaged on either end of the tail. Obviously, for the reason, you don't want to offend any of your potential customers. As you said, we'll close with our plug that everyone, regardless of what your view, should exercise your rights and get out and vote. Make sure your voice is heard.

That's our Brown Bag for today. Thanks for joining us. Please subscribe. We'll see you tomorrow.