Poll finds most Americans avoid politics on social media

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'This ... opens the door to further questions about the role of social media in politics.'

Most American voters do not want to see your political rants on social media — and they are perfectly willing to unfriend you over it.

The vast majority of American voters are not interested in what their member of Congress or Governor or President is posting on Twitter or Facebook.

Most American voters also claim they never post their own political views on social media.

Those are among the findings of a new national survey conducted and released by Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs and the University of South Florida.

The poll, conducted in early January of 1,000 eligible voters nationwide, also found that more than half of voters surveyed said they believe their views are not represented by either the Democratic or the Republican parties.

The pollsters say the full results have a margin of error of about 3 percentage points.

“As social media continues to infiltrate virtually every aspect of society, politicians are using it more frequently; but this survey shows that most Americans are not thrilled by this change and would prefer that politicians do not communicate through social media,’’ said a statement from FIU political science doctoral candidate Bethany Bowra, whose research covers the presidency, Congress and political communication in the digital age.

She conducted the poll with Stephen Neely, an associate professor at USF’s School of Public Affairs.

“This challenges many current perceptions of effective political communication and opens the door to further questions about the role of social media in politics moving forward,’’ Bowra added. “As midterms approach, politicians and parties are working to win voters. Information about voters’ communication preferences could play a significant role in November’s election outcomes and beyond.”

Among the findings:

— 85% said they have at least one active personal social media account.

— 66% said they either only occasionally (less often than once a week) or never encounter political discussions on their platforms. Just 18% said they do so every day; 19% said a few times a week; and 6%, maybe once a week.

— 58% said they never post about politics on their own, and another 26% said they do so only occasionally, meaning less often than once a week.

— A majority, 57%, said they have unfriended or unfollowed someone in the last six months for posting political content he or she disagreed with.

— A large majority, 83%, said they have unfriended or unfollowed someone for posting political ideas he or she found “morally objectionable.”

— And 81% said they have unfriended or unfollowed someone for posting political ideas that were untrue.

— A majority, 55%, conceded social media was an effective tool for elected officials to use to communicate with the public.

— Yet, specific to members of Congress, 54% of respondents were uncomfortable with them using social media to communicate with constituents.

— And 65% of respondents said they were uncomfortable with elected officials using social media to communicate with each other.

Not that people necessarily see those posts. Large majorities said they do not follow the President (87%), their Governor (88%) or their members of Congress (90%) on any social media platform.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]

One comment

  • comment

    February 23, 2022 at 9:47 am

    the old rule never talk politics or religion i like rants I am just here for the ww3

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