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There was no extra sample of cell-phone users, who tend to be younger and slightly more likely to be internet users. In attempting to measure the state of political participation in America, we asked about participation in eleven forms of political activity ranging from working with fellow citizens to solve local problems, to participating actively in organizations that try to influence public policy, to volunteering for a political party or candidate. Our results are consistent with previous research in finding that individuals with high levels of income and education tend to be much more likely to take part politically.
As income and education levels increase, so does participation in a wide range of political activities, in particular, working with fellow citizens to solve community problems; attending political meetings; taking part in a civic or political group; attending a political rally or speech; working or volunteering for a political party or candidate; making political contributions; or getting in touch with public officials.
When we consider individual political acts, we sometimes find that a particular subgroup is especially active. For example, those under 30 and English-speaking Hispanics were especially likely to have attended an organized protest in the previous twelve months; suburbanites were more likely to have attended a political meeting on local, town, or school affairs; and fifty and sixty-somethings were especially likely to have contacted a government official. Otherwise, the group differences on the basis of gender, age, race or ethnicity, kind of community are much less substantial than the differences on the basis of income or, especially, education.
Among those individuals who are involved in a community or political group:. Nearly nine in ten community or political group members go online, and email has emerged as a key communications tool for facilitating group communications. Furthermore, among those who are involved in a political or community group:. Over this time period:. As the numbers above indicate, many people engage in civic communications using multiple channels—for instance, they may sign a paper petition for one issue and an online petition for another—and certain types of communications are especially likely to take place online.
In contrast, among those who have signed a petition more than half signed a paper petition only. Interestingly, the method citizens use to contact government officials appears to have little relationship to whether or not they receive a response, or whether they are satisfied with the result of their communication. With the rise of the blogosphere, social networking sites and other online tools, interested citizens can now take part in the online community of political and civic activists by posting their own commentary on social issues online.
In addition to the possibilities for posting content on blogs and other websites, social networking sites have also become fertile ground for engagement with the political process. As we shall see, the nature of this online activism differs in some important respects from the other civic or political activities discussed in this report. In , Americans were frequently asked — and, in turn, asked others — to take part in political activities.
For a small share of the public, email functioned in as a key tool for daily political communication and mobilization. However, Democratic donors were far more likely than their Republican counterparts to donate money over the internet.
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Compared to political donations, donations to non-profit and charitable organizations excluding places of worship are far more likely to take place offline. Although online and offline political donors do not differ significantly at the low end of the contribution scale, larger political contributions are confined primarily to the offline world. This tendency for large political donations to occur offline is especially interesting when compared to donations to non-profit institutions or charitable causes.
Those who make charitable donations are less likely one the whole to make online donations than are political donors. Nevertheless, in contrast to political donors, who are less likely to make a large contribution if they are contributing on the internet, charitable contributors are equally likely to make large contributions regardless of whether they are donating online or offline. For whatever reason, the tendency of political donors to make large contributions offline is not apparent when it comes to charitable giving.
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It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Home U. Main More. This survey allows us to compare the offline and online worlds in a variety of ways: How and to what extent are digital and online tools being used by Americans to communicate with civic groups, or to engage with the political system? Are online avenues for political activity bringing new voices and groups into civic and political life? Where do relatively new venues for civic debate such as blogs or social networking sites fit into the overall spectrum of civic and political involvement?
enter Are these tools bringing new voices into the broader civic debate? Political Participation: Nearly two-thirds of all Americans have participated in some form of political activity in the past year.
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Just under one-fifth engaged in four or more political acts on a scale of eleven different activities. Communication: Nearly half of all Americans have expressed their opinions in a public forum on topics that are important to them, and blogs and social networking sites provide new opportunities for political engagement.
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