This Election Year Digital Runs Neck and Neck With TV

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Mobile-reliant Hispanic and African-American voters are helping to take digital prime-time in 2016.

American voters are being influenced by Facebook and Twitter as much as by CNN and Fox News as the primary season draws near. According to a study of registered voters from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, millennials and ethnic voters devoted to their mobile devices are swinging the election dial over to digital in a big way.

Sixty-seven percent of Hispanics and 60% of African-Americans said they're more reliant on mobile for political information than any other medium. This contrasted with only 49% of voters overall and moved digital equal with TV for political persuasion during Election 2016. Both were named as primary candidate information sources by 61% of voters in this survey of 1,513 Americans conducted by Vision Critical in November

Political “influentials”—people who've worked for candidates or run for political office—are more closely hooked into digital channels than average voters, with 78% of them saying digital is a crucial source of information. More than half of political “actives” who donated to candidates and attended speeches also rely on digital sources.

News sites, both national and local, were the most popular landing spots for digitally attuned voters, and 87% access them on desktops or laptops. Forty percent check in on smartphones  and 27% use their tablets.

TV looks to retain its place as the prime medium for attack ads. On average, 61% of voters told IAB they'd seen candidate ads on television, versus only 40% who said they viewed them online.

Digital emerged from the study as high-opportunity for candidates of the future. Some 35% of respondents naming online as their chief source of political information were between the ages of 18 and 34. Nine out of 10 of them said they will most likely vote in primaries, and 30% said they stream debates online.

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