Only One-Third of Adults Who Have Watched an Online Video Have Watched a Political Video Online

With more and more people viewing videos online (see Harris Poll #128, Appetites for a Wider Selection of TV Episodes and Movies Online Grows), the political world is definitely paying attention to see how valuable these may be for candidates. At the moment, it may be too early to tell. Four out of five (81%) adults who are online have watched videos there, but only a third (35%) of these have ever watched a political video. Of course, this does translate into many millions of people, 62 million in fact. (Harris Poll #108, Four in Five of all U.S. Adults – an Estimated 178 Million – Go Online)

Looking at the type of political videos watched, just over one-quarter (27%) of those who have watched a video online have watched a news story about a campaign or candidate, while 14 percent have watched a candidate interview and the same number a political speech. Just one in ten (11%) watched a political advertisement and 10 percent a campaign video.

These are some of the results of a recent Harris Poll of 2,455 U.S. adults who are online (ages 18 and older), of whom 1,983 are online video viewers, conducted online by Harris Interactive(R) between November 7 and 13, 2007.

In looking at this by party, Democrats are more likely than Republican or Independents (40% versus 35% and 33%) to have watched a political video online. In fact, Democrats are more likely to have watched each of the types of political videos than Republicans.

Among those who have watched a political video, over half (56%) say they have watched videos to help decide which candidates to support, half (50%) have watched videos for candidates they already supported and one-third (35%) have watched videos for candidates they knew they wouldn’t support. Democrats are more likely then Republicans to watch videos to help them decide who to support (59% versus 46%). Republicans, on the other hand, are more likely to watch videos for candidates they knew they would not support (39% versus 31%).

If there were more political speeches or campaign ads online, that does not translate to many more people watching them. Among adults who have watched some type of video online, just seven percent say they would watch a lot more of political speeches if more were available on the Internet, while 17 percent say they would watch a little more. Just over one-third (36%) would not watch more political speeches if more were available online. Even fewer adults who watch online videos would watch campaign ads if there were more of them online. Two in five (41%) would not watch any more while four percent would watch a lot more of campaign ads and 10 percent a little more.

So What?

While YouTube may be taking over the Internet, it looks like campaign themed videos may not yet be “must see” viewing. Campaigns probably don’t want to avoid going online, but they should ensure that they do not focus online on this medium – as a struggling campaign with insufficient funds may be wont to do. One thought may be with all the campaign ads on television and with the constant barrage of campaign coverage of the media, why search online for more videos of the candidates?

“Have you ever watched videos online from any of the following places?”

View Tables


The Harris Poll(R) was conducted online within the United States between November 7 and 13, 2007 among 2,455 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 1,983 are online video viewers. Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult populations of the respective countries. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.