Voters Going Off The Grid

September 14, 2011 by Michael Beach

Voters Going Off The Grid

Targeted Victory, in partnership with SAY Media, Chong & Koster and pollsters Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies and Thomas Eldon of SEA Polling and Strategic Direct, today announced new research designed to understand how electoral and advocacy campaigns can effectively reach voters in the upcoming election.

31% of Likely 2012 Voters Are Not Watching Live TV

We asked likely voters how they consume video content across a variety of platforms. Our study found that 31% of all likely voters hadn’t watched  any live TV in the week prior (by “live TV” we mean watching programming as it is broadcast over the air or cable without a delaying device like a DVR). In fact, we observed an even higher level of this kind of behavior in the key battleground state of Ohio, where nearly 40% have not watched live tv in the last week. There are no significant differences in this behavior by age, gender, or party affiliation. One-third of the voting population, therefore, is putting itself out of the reach of televised political advertisements, which often rely on immediacy to help shape perceptions in a dynamic messaging environment. Though this study was conducted in Spring 2011, there is no reason to believe that live television viewing will increase with the election season. In fact, broad audience trends indicate the opposite.

59% of DVR Owners Who Are Likely to Vote in 2012 Skip Every Ad

Nearly 20% of voters (and 25% of younger voters) primarily watch video content through their DVR, and almost 40% of all voters have a DVR in their home. Furthermore, while watching programming on their DVR, they generally try to skip the advertising. Roughly 60% of DVR users report that they always skip ads when watching shows on a DVR, and 88% skip ads at least three-quarters of the time. This indicates that a significant share of planned GRP’s are being delivered by broadcasters but not seen by voters. Between ad skipping and the shift to non-television platforms, it is becoming  increasingly difficult to rely on television advertising to effectively reach the full scope of voters a campaign seeks in competitive elections. Because of this, campaigns must re-balance their communication strategy to reach audiences both on television and through more targeted means.

Video Consumption Is Up While Live TV Use Is Down

Americans still love watching TV programming,  but the means by which they access that content has evolved significantly over the last decade — and continues to rapidly evolve, making it difficult to reliably plan next year’s election based on last year’s models. Today, the average voter is consuming  over 18 hours of video content each week, with only about half of that programing coming through live broadcast.  But there is a big difference in consumption by age — while the total hours spent watching programming is roughly the same for all voters, younger voters (age 18–44) are getting a full two-thirds of their video programming from non-live sources, including DVR, DVD’s, and online streaming.

This generation of voters has found ways to get their entertainment without relying on live TV, and as time passes are likely to continue to move further away from the traditional viewing mode. Already, over 36% of voters age 18–44 are watching less live TV than they did a year ago, while 33% are watching more of their video content online. When asked about the next few years, nearly 30% of younger voters say they plan on switching from traditional video providers to streaming sources or other internet-based providers.

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Voters Off The Grid: Whitepaper

Voters Off The Grid: One Pager