Nearly a third (31%) of American adults used the internet during the 2006 campaign to get political news and information and discuss the races through email; the number of Americans using the internet as their main source of political material doubled since the last mid-term election in 2002. In all, 15% of all American adults said the internet was a primary source for campaign news during the election, up from 7% in the mid-term election of 2002 and close to the 18% of Americans who said they relied on the internet during the presidential campaign cycle in 2004.The growing importance of the internet is tied at least in part to the spread of broadband connections in U.S. homes. About a third of the growth from 2002 to 2006 in the number of people relying on the internet for political news is linked directly to the increased adoption of broadband. Just 17% of Americans had high-speed connections at the time the 2002 campaign ended. In November 2006, 48% have such internet connections. While television and newspapers still dominate political communication for the majority of Americans, one class of civic actors now uses the internet more than newspapers. They are relatively young — under 36 years old — and have broadband connections at home. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.