Television Remains the Most Important Influencer, as Seen in the 2020 Races
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On November 3, 2020, the United States held elections for the office of the president, 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate, and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Elections for 13 state and territory governors were also held, as well as contests for other state, local, tribal and judicial offices, and a variety of referendums.
The presidential election saw the highest voter turnout since 1900, with each ticket receiving more than 74 million votes, surpassing Barack Obama’s record of 69.5 million votes from 2008.
The goal of the Voter Funnel Study was to determine the influence of media platforms on voters’ decision-making process. An online survey administered by Dynata of over 10,000 adults asked registered voters in ten (10) competitive states (AZ, FL, GA, MI, MN, NC, OH, PA, TX & WI) about their exposure to advertising seen/heard/read on ANY of 20+ media platforms, and what impact it had on them. They did not have to see a TV ad to be included in this study.
The 10-minute survey was fielded right after Election Day, from November 4th through November 18th, 2020, and respondents were given the opportunity to take it in either English or Spanish.
Among the results:
- TV was cited as the most important influence at each stage of voters’ decision process (awareness/interest/get more information/consider voting/vote), more than all other media that were measured combined. For example: for the final stage of voting, 51% cited TV as the “most important,” while the combined total for the other measured media was just 36%. Of those that cited TV as the “most important”, 7 out of 10 picked broadcast TV over cable.
- TV ads had a ripple effect on 73% of respondents, who took some kind of action after seeing/hearing a political ad on television. In addition, of those that do online searches, 75% said TV ads influenced them when performing an online political search.
- Local broadcast TV news was the most trusted news source, while news on local TV station websites and/or apps was the most trusted digital source. Voters found fake news to be most prevalent on social media and cable news.
- How did voters vote? Only a third voted on election day, November 3rd, with 67% voting earlier than election day. However, whether voting on or before November 3, most voting was done in person. 28% voted by mail, and 13% used a drop off box or location for their ballot.
- Of those that voted early, 39% voted three or more weeks before Election Day. 46% of Democrats cast their ballots this way, compared to just 32% of Republicans.