POLL: Politics and the Internet Meet in the Rise of the Wired Electorate

It follows that online political information users hold some views associated with younger age groups — more likely to support gay civil unions, legal abortion and a legal-status program for illegal immigrants.

Online political information users also are more apt than other Americans to define themselves as liberals, 27 percent vs. 17 percent, and somewhat less apt to be conservatives, 31 percent vs. 38 percent. Conservatism peaks, at 46 percent, among people who don't use the Internet at all.

In other respects, however, similarity is the rule. There are no substantial differences between online adults and the broader public in assessments of the country's direction overall, President Bush's work in office or whether the war in Iraq was worth fighting; in support for the death penalty; in being a self-identified feminist; or, with a few exceptions, in emotional responses to politics today (such as anger, hopefulness or frustration).

Partisan allegiance — the share of Democrats, independents and Republicans — is about the same among the online political population as among others.

Preferences in candidate support reflect the age differential. In the Democratic race, Barack Obama, who's more popular with younger adults, does better with the online political information population (33 percent support) than with others (22 percent). There's almost no such difference for Hillary Clinton (who leads Obama in both groups). And there are no Obama-sized differences in the Republican race; the greatest are that Mitt Romney does 8 points better, and John McCain a scant 5 points worse, with the online political population.

Gaps for Obama again are prominent in hypothetical general-election matchups. His support against either Rudy Giuliani or Mike Huckabee is about 10 points higher in the online political population than it is among other Americans.

GROUPS — There are demographic differences beyond age in the online political information population. A remarkable 44 percent are college graduates, for example, compared with 16 percent of others (and just 7 percent of those who don't use the Internet at all).

Sixty-four percent report household incomes of more than $50,000 a year, compared with 40 percent of other adults (and 26 percent of entirely offline adults). Indeed 25 percent report $100,000-plus incomes, again well over the level for other adults.

People who go online for political information are 9 points more likely than all other Americans to be married, 11 points more apt to have kids younger than 18 at home and 16 points more apt to have a full-time job. By and large these follow age or education, which along with income, are strong predictors of Internet use.

There are some interesting attitudinal differences within subgroups; for instance, women in the online political information group are 15 points more likely than other women to identify themselves as liberals. But some of the most striking differences are among conservatives; those in the online information population are noticeably more in agreement on some issues than are conservatives more broadly.

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