Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Democratic Party Base Is Cell Phone Only

The most recent numbers on US wireless (cell phone) only households released in December show the inexorable rise of households without any landline telephone. The new report discloses that as of the first half of 2016, 49.3 percent of all U.S. households have no landline phone, an increase of 2 percent over the previous year, which is a statistically significant difference within this very large study. At 59.2 percent in 2015, the latest year individual state statistics are available, Texas has the highest cell phone only adoption rate of all 50 states.

Further, among households with both landline and cellular telephones, 16.3 percent received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones. Combined, 65.9 percent of American households are only or almost only reachable by calling a household member using their mobile cell phone number. At 75.8 percent, Texas has the highest prevalence of adults in wireless-only (59.2%) and wireless-mostly (16.6%) homes.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics gather this information via in-person interviews throughout the year. Numbers collected from January through June 2016 show not only that almost half of all US households are now cell phone only, but 59.4 percent of children under age 18 live in households without landline phones. That means households of younger parents with children are more likely to be cell phone only. For Texas in 2015, the rate was 69.6 percent.

Some individual demographic groups are even less likely to be connected via landline. Those living in household with only wireless phone include:
  • 72.1 percent of adults age 25-29
  • 69.8 percent of adults age 30-34
  • 62.7 percent of adults age 18-24
  • 60.0 percent of adults age 35-44
  • 43.3 percent of adults age 45-64
  • 21.1 percent of adults over age 65
  • 79.1 percent of adults living with unrelated adult roommates
  • 57.0 percent of adults living with children
  • 69.7 percent of adults in rented homes
  • 63.7 percent of Hispanics adults (Hispanic adults were more likely than non-Hispanic white (45.0%), non-Hispanic black (49.2%), or non-Hispanic Asian (51.4%)adults to be living in households with only wireless telephones.)
These numbers clearly show the need to understand the signifigant limitations of old fashioned voice phone banking in efforts to connect with and mobilize voters. While phone banking can still be effective as a volunteer recruitment tool (particularly if you have a preexisting relationship with that person), in terms of direct voter contact, traditional phone banking is dying. The primary reason being: cell phones. More and more people are ditching their landlines. And federal law prohibits using any predictive dialer technology to call cell phones, meaning ever single one of them has to be hand dialed by a volunteer. To make matters worse, more and more people are becoming hesitant about answering calls from numbers they don’t already have in their phones, preferring to listen to a voicemail after and make a decision about whether or not to call back.

Over 90 percent of U.S. adults carry a cell phone, and two-thirds of them are now smart phones with Internet access.

In most cases, people actually have to go out of their way to shut off the text-messaging feature. This means political action groups, candidate campaigns, and political parties can reach nearly the entire electorate via text messaging. Further, texts are generally viewed as a highly personal form of communication. And if you begin early enough in the campaign collecting SMS text message sign ups, this can really pay off as campaigns get closer to Election Day. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which became law in 1991, forbids campaigns from auto-dialing and blasting text messages to those who have not signed up to receive them. Cell phone numbers of those who "opt-in" for contact must be individually dialed in-person, whether for voice or text.

Field organizers for Bernie Sanders' campaign adopted Hustle, an app developed by a San Francisco-based startup that allows campaigns to use text messages in a way that complies with federal law. The app allows senders to aim individual text messages at a long list of recipients in rapid-fire fashion. By ensuring that each message is manually sent, Hustle satisfied legal requirements while nonetheless permitting text-message tactics at scale. Once a voter responded to a message, the organizer could begin a personal exchange, which would be logged so that others on the campaign could pick it up later on. Sanders staff in Iowa found it much easier to recruit supporters to attend the party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner by writing them over Hustle than it was to call them with an invitation. Voters who might be wary of a phone call from an unrecognizable number, it appeared, readily opened a text message from one.

In several early primary and caucus states, Clinton’s campaign followed Sanders' campaign lead and used the text-messaging platform as a method of voter contact. The Clinton campaign altimately coordinated with the NGP VAN Corp. and the DNC to build its own software platform called Megaphone. The new platform works like Hustle but is engineered to interact seamlessly with the NGP VAN system to access voter data.

Megaphone allows campaigns to target individual voters with individualized text messages the same way they would select them to be contacted by a virtual phone bank or by door to door canvassing to get-out-the-vote. With information flowing both directions, digital conversations with voters are automatically tecorded into their individual records — meaning that, in theory, a text-message exchange initiated by a single organizer can be made available in perpetuity by Democratic campaigners.

Political organizers seeking to influence voters should understand that people living in households with no landline phone are spending even more time on their mobile smart devices. Larger screen smart phones and tablets are increasingly their go-to device to read news and engage in political activities. Simply put, social media has changed the game in terms of political organizing.

A majority of Americans now say they get news via social media, and half of the public turned to social media to learn about the 2016 presidential election.

A Pew survey found overall, 20% of social media users said they modified their stance on a social or political issue in 2016 because of material they saw on social media, and 17% said social media helped to change their views about a specific political candidate:
Among social media users, Democrats – and liberal Democrats in particular – are a bit more likely than Republicans to say they have ever modified their views on a social or political issue, or on a particular political candidate, because of something they saw on social media. (Democrats and Republicans include independents and nonpartisans who “lean” toward these parties.) In addition to asking whether they had changed their minds in this way due to social media content, our survey also asked respondents to tell us – in their own words – about a recent time this happened to them. And when we coded their answers, we found a number of distinct themes that emerged in the issues that came to mind.

Many of the responses we received in this survey, conducted this summer, mentioned one of the major presidential candidates as the “political or social issue” they changed their minds on. Around one-in-five users mentioned either Hillary Clinton (21%) or Donald Trump (18%), and around one-in-ten referenced Bernie Sanders:
“I saw a video on Reddit … that ultimately swayed me from voting independent in this election to voting for Hillary Clinton.”

“I thought Donald Trump was leaning one way on an issue and a friend posted something that was opposite of what I believe. This caused me to think less of him than I once I did.”

“Originally, I planned on voting for Hillary Clinton in the election, but then I found out about Bernie Sanders through social media. I decided I would vote for him instead.”
Moreover, people who said they had changed their minds on these candidates often said that social media pointed their opinion in a more negative direction. Respondents who indicated they had changed their minds about Clinton were more than three times as likely to say that their opinion changed in a negative direction rather than a positive one (24% vs. 7%), and respondents who mentioned Trump were nearly five times as likely to say that their opinion became more negative as opposed to more positive (19% vs. 4%).

But while many of the responses we received keyed into the current election, other topics also came to the forefront – most notably issues related to race and the Black Lives Matter movement, whose hashtag is frequently used on social media. Roughly one-in-ten (13%) users who have changed their minds about a “political or social issue” mentioned race, police brutality or the Black Lives Matter movement in one way or another:
“Black lives matter vs. All lives matter: I’m white. Initially, I saw nothing wrong with saying ‘All lives matter’ – because all lives do matter. Through social media I’ve seen many explanations of why that statement is actually dismissive of the current problem of black lives seeming to matter less than others and my views have changed.”

“My view on the police has dramatically changed after being faced with case after case of police violence especially against communities of color.”
Along with these issues, a relatively small share of users mentioned issues such as gun control and gun rights, gay rights and immigration:
“More pro-gun laws now due to statistics presented in specialized social media presentations of gun laws elsewhere in the world and their effect on public violence.”

“I would say that I’m for a harder approach on immigration after reading social media.”
Some social media users who had modified their views about an issue because of material they encountered on social media mentioned politicians in general (6%) or conservatives in general (5%):
“From information I have seen on Facebook I learned more about some of the pitfalls of some of the candidates, which makes me lean towards voting for an independent party.”

“A post from a friend made me reconsider the positives of conservatives.”
Still, it is important to note that the majority of social media users are not swayed by what they see in their networks. Some 82% of social media users say they have never modified their views on a particular candidate – and 79% say they have never changed their views on a social or political issue – because of something they saw on social media.
Roughly eight-in-ten online Americans (79%) used Facebook in early 2016, a 7-percentage-point increase from a similar point in 2015. Young adults continue to report using Facebook at high rates, but older adults are joining in increasing numbers. Some 62% of online adults ages 65 and older in early 2016 used Facebook, a 14-point increase from the 48% who reported doing so in 2015. In addition, women continue to use Facebook at somewhat higher rates than men: 83% of female internet users and 75% of male internet users are Facebook adopters. All are using Facebook and other social media sites on their smart devices.

Social media sites like Facebook are not the only venue where people can connect with others online. Today smartphone owners can choose from a variety of messaging apps that fill many of the same functions. Some of these apps look and function like a traditional chat or messaging service, while others offer unique features – such as the ability to post anonymously, or to have one’s posts expire or delete themselves after they are viewed.

A Pew survey conducted in 2016 asked about three different types of messaging apps that people might have on their smartphones and found that:
  • 29% of smartphone owners use general-purpose messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Kik. Due to a change in how this question was asked, this figure is not directly comparable to a previous measure collected in 2015.2
  • 24% use messaging apps that automatically delete sent messages, such as Snapchat or Wickr. This represents a 7-point increase from a survey conducted in 2015 (at that point 17% of smartphone owners used these apps).
  • 5% use apps that allow people to anonymously chat or post comments, such as YikYak or Whisper. This is the first time Pew Research Center has asked about these types of apps.
In general, messaging apps are especially popular among younger smartphone owners. Some 56% of smartphone owners ages 18 to 29 use auto-delete apps, more than four times the share among those 30-49 (13%) and six times the share among those 50 or older (9%). Similarly, 42% of smartphone owners ages 18 to 29 use more general messaging apps like WhatsApp or Kik, compared with 19% of smartphone owners ages 50 or older.


No comments:

Post a Comment