A new report by the Knight Foundation finds that the news diets of chronic non-voters may shape whether they decide to vote in the general election Nov. 3.
In 2016, almost 100 million eligible voters did not vote, making non-voters a larger constituency than either the Democratic or Republican voter bases.
A new Knight Foundation report, “The 100 Million Project: How media habits relate to voter participation,” released on Wednesday examines whether non-voters will continue to sit out the November election and looks at whether their news consumption habits could translate into a willingness to cast a ballot.
The report is based in the 100 Million Project survey of more than 12,000 non-voters, and a companion survey of more than 1,000 active voters. The report explores the media habits of 4,000 non-voters, and 1,000 voters, exploring how their media consumption habits may impact their attitudes toward voting in the 2020 race.
The report reveals major divisions among non-voters based on their media diets. The factors include age, preferred news sources, partisanship, social media reliance and more.
Key findings from the Knight Foundation survey:
Chronic non-voters who pay more attention to news may change their voting behavior this year. The 33% of non-voters who say they’re attentive to the news are also more likely to say they’ll vote in the fall.
Conservative news consumers are “more fired up” to vote in 2020, according to the report. Non-voters who turn to right-leaning news outlets are more likely to say they’ll vote this year than those who rely on left-leaning outlets or “centrist” media. Sixty percent of conservative news consumer non-voters say so, versus 53% of liberal news consumer non-voters.
People who rely on social media for news are less likely to vote. People who say they get their news mostly from social media are consistently less likely to vote and more skeptical about voting. Those who rely chiefly on social media are among the least likely to be registered to vote.
Young non-voters say they are more likely to “bump into” news rather than seeking it out. Among voters ages 25 to 29, 46% say they actively seek out news.
Citizens are more engaged with national news than local news in many communities. Both non-voters and voters say they feel more knowledgeable about national news than about what’s happening in their local communities. Seventy-one percent of “nationally knowledgeable” non-voters say they have enough information to vote in the fall. But they also say they are less likely to be civically engaged in their local communities.
For the full 30-page report, visit the Knight Foundation website at knightfoundation.org.