With the midterms just around the corner – we decided to do a deep dive on consumers’ opinions on political advertising.
It will come as no shock that consumers are not too keen about political advertising with 50% of US adults describing political advertising as ‘misleading’ and 38% describing it as ‘annoying’ or “untruthful.” Only 10% of US adults would describe political advertising as ‘influential’. Regardless of America’s feelings about political advertising, it will inevitably inundate our lives in a few short months. So, what do Americans think when it comes to political advertising? That’s what we will be answering in this month’s MediaPulse.
To set the stage, our survey found that 65% of US adults are planning to vote in the upcoming 2022 congressional (midterm) elections in November. This number is quite optimistic as midterm voter turnout is typically between 40%-50%. As is typical, older generations are planning on turning out at higher rates in November than younger generations.
For those that are planning to vote or are undecided about voting, the party of choice is dead even with 36% saying they will vote Democrat and 36% saying Republican. Gen Z stands out as a generation of indecision with 49% saying that they are undecided in which party they will vote for come November.
Now that we understand a bit about who is planning on voting and how they are planning on voting, let us get back to actual political advertising and begin to answer the question of what Americans care about when it comes to political advertising. As we all know, there are a lot of different elements when it comes to political ads. Some politicians strive to connect with regular people while others like to blow things up. So, what’s appealing to Americans? The most appealing is candidates talking about political issues with 72% of Americans responding that it is appealing. Candidates sharing details on their racial/ethnic background, gender identity or sexual orientation is much more appealing to Gen Z than other generations. Political mudslinging comes in dead last in terms of appeal among US adults.
So Americans want to hear candidates talk about the issues but what issues do they want to hear about? Unsurprisingly, opinions differ by the candidate you are planning to vote for. The top two issues for Americans, were candidate’s stances on law enforcement (68%) and inflation (67%). Climate change has the greatest divide in terms of appeal between Democrats and Republicans with 78% of Democrats finding it appealing to just 37% of Republicans. For those candidates looking to appeal to undecided voters, the topics that they find most appealing are the candidate’s stance on law enforcement (62%), Inflation/higher cost of living (61%), and climate change (58%).
Next, we asked about which advertising mediums are Americans most likely to pay attention to when it comes to political advertising. Television/streaming commercials was the number one medium for 60% of US adults. Social media received the second highest percentage at 38%. For Gen Z (60%) and Millennials (55%), social media was the number one medium for political advertising.
When it comes to social media, only 22% of Americans follow politicians. Democrats are much more likely to follow politicians (33%) when compared to Republicans (28%) and undecided voters (7%).
Social media has become notoriously contentious when it comes to political advertising. Especially when it comes to political advertising that is untruthful and promotes violence or extreme ideas. Should social media companies’ terms of service be prioritized over freedom of speech? Well, the majority of Americans agree that some form of action should be taken with only 13% saying that social media companies should do nothing. The most popular action is to ban the users entirely from the platform that posted the information.
Finally – we asked respondents where they regularly access news coverage. Local news (47%), Facebook (31%), Fox News (30%), and CNN (28%) are the most popular among US adults. Those that have not yet decided how they are going to vote in the midterms regularly access local news (55%), Facebook (30%), YouTube (29%), and CNN (29%).
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This Online CARAVAN omnibus survey was conducted on June 24-26, 2022. Approximately 1,000 adults selected from opt-in panels were surveyed. The results are also weighted to U.S. Census data to be demographically representative. Learn more about our Online CARAVAN® omnibus surveys here. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.