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Social Media Election Information Report

Airdate: November 15, 2016
Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy will be releasing a new report on social networks and social media about where voters get their election information and how that may differ among Republicans, Democrats and independents. The report will also gauge the impact of independents on elections, as well the impact of Latinos and Millennials. Morrison Institute director Thom Reilly and Jackie Salit, who is a national leader among independents, will discuss the report.

Guests:
  • Thom Reilly- Morrison Institute director Jackie Salit - a national leader among independents
View Transcript
TED SIMONS: ASU'S MORRISON INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY WILL BE RELEASING A NEW REPORT ON SOCIAL NETWORKS AND SOCIAL MEDIA. THE STUDY LOOKS AT HOW AND WHERE VOTERS GET THEIR ELECTION INFORMATION. THE REPORT ALSO GAUGES THE ELECTION IMPACT OF INDEPENDENTS, LATINOS AND MILLENNIALS. MORRISON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR THOM REILLY IS HERE TO DISCUSS THE REPORT, AND ALSO JOINING US JACKIE SALIT, PRESIDENT OF INDEPENDENTVOTING.ORG. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. IT'S COMING OUT TOMORROW, CORRECT?

THOM REILLY: YES, AT THE STATE OF THE STATE CONFERENCE, WE WILL BE RELEASING SOME OF THE FINDINGS. WELL, YOU KNOW, IT'S LOOKING AT THE MEDIA AND ELECTION WITH A SPECIAL EYE ON THE INDEPENDENT VOTER. AS THE INDEPENDENT VOTER MAKES UP AN INCREASINGLY LARGER PORTION OF OUR ELECTORATE. MANY TIMES THEY ARE NOT ADDRESSED IN RESEARCH OR IN THE MEDIA IF YOU LOOK AT SOME OF THE ELECTION COVERAGE. THERE'S A LOT OF TALK ABOUT HOW DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS VOTED. BUT SOMETIMES THE LARGEST VOTING BLOCK WERE NEGLECTED. REGARDLESS OF YOUR OPINION ABOUT HOW THAT ELECTION TURNED OUT, THERE I THINK GIVEN THE DIVISIVENESS, MOST PEOPLE AGREE THAT THIS COUNTRY IS-- IS DIVIDED BY SOME SOCIAL SILOS AND MEDIA CONSUMPTION IN PART FORMS YOUR WORLD VIEW, AND WITH THE ONSET OF BOTH THE INTERNET AND CABLE TV, BUBBLES ARE ACTUALLY PRODUCED. SO WE DECIDED TO INVESTIGATE HOW MEDIA USED BY PARTY, AGE AND FRIENDS AS WELL AS SOCIAL MEDIA IMPACT THE POLITICAL THOUGHT AND THEIR WORLD VIEW. AND OUR HYPOTHESIS IS THAT THE INDEPENDENTS COULD SERVE A BRIDGING EFFECT TO ACTUALLY PERHAPS BURST SOME OF THOSE BUBBLES.

TED SIMONS: IS THAT WHAT YOU FOUND IN THE REPORT? WHAT DID THE REPORT SHOW?

JACKIE SALIT: THE REPORT, I THINK, IS AN INCREDIBLE NEW LANDSCAPE OF HOW TO THINK ABOUT BREAKING DOWN THE POLITICAL DIVIDE IN THIS COUNTRY. THE WORK OF MORRISON HAS BEEN TO REALLY DRILL DOWN AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE LIVE THEIR LIVES AS WHO THEY ARE POLITICALLY AND HOW THEY CONSUME MEDIA AND HOW THEY RELATE TO FRIENDS AND HOW THEY RELATE TO THEIR NETWORKS. AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT THE STUDY FOUND WHICH TO ME AS AN ORGANIZER AND AS A LEADER OF INDEPENDENT VOTERS IN THIS COUNTRY, WAS SO MONUMENTAL IS THAT INDEPENDENTS PLAY THIS ROLE OF BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS AT THE GRASS ROOTS LEVEL, AT THE FAMILY LEVEL, AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL, THAT INDEPENDENTS-- WE ARE TALK ABOUT VERY SIMPLE THINGS HERE, TED. INDEPENDENTS TALK TO DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS AND HAVE THEM AS FRIENDS. THAT OFTEN IT'S THE CASE THAT DEMOCRATS JUST HAVE FRIENDS WHO ARE DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS JUST WHO ARE REPUBLICANS. BUT THE SOCIAL NETWORKING CAPACITY THAT INDEPENDENTS HAVE, I THINK, HAS A HUGE CULTURAL FUTURE IN TERMS OF DEALING WITH THE DIVIDE.

THOM REILLY: WE LOOKED AT SOCIAL NETWORKS. I MEAN, WHERE PEOPLE GET ANYWHERE NEWS SOURCES. WE SCALED THEM FROM VERY CONSERVATIVE, YOU KNOW PARTISAN REPUBLICAN TO PARTISAN DEMOCRAT AND, YOU KNOW, WE FOUND THAT TYPICALLY, AS ONE MIGHT EXPECT AND WHAT PEW FOUND NATIONALLY, SOURCES LIKE FOX NEWS ARE CONCENTRATED MORE ON THE CONSERVATIVE TIMES AND "NEW YORK TIMES" AND PBS ON THE MORE LIBERAL SIDE. BUT WHAT WE FOUND IS THAT AS YOU MOVE MORE TOWARDS THE RIGHT, THE INTENSITY OF YOUR SOURCES DECREASE. DEMOCRATS AND INDEPENDENTS HAD A WIDER NETWORK OF SOURCES. INDEPENDENTS HAVING FEW WIDEST. BUT WHAT WE FOUND IS THAT WITH INDEPENDENTS, THOSE THAT TALKED TO REPUBLICANS AND THEIR SOCIAL NETWORK HAD-- SEEM TO HAVE A MORE MODERATING IMPACT AND THAT REPUBLICANS ACTUALLY TALKED TO INDEPENDENTS AS MUCH AS THEY TALKED TO THEIR REPUBLICAN COUNTERPARTS. SOME OF THE RESEARCH IS INDICATING THAT PERHAPS BY INDEPENDENTS SERVING AS-- YOU KNOW, THEY ARE NOT POLITICALLY IN THE MIDDLE, THEY ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE.

TED SIMONS: RIGHT.

THOM REILLY: BETWEEN VERY CONSERVATIVE AND VERY LIBERAL, BUT WHAT WE ARE FINDING IS THAT THEIR NEWS SOURCES ARE MORE BROADLY BASED AND THEY’RE TALKING TO EACH OTHER MORE.

TED SIMONS: SOME INDEPENDENT VOTERS LEAN RIGHT AND SOME INDEPENDENT VOTERS ARE LEFT AND OTHERS ARE ALL OVER THE MAP HERE. AS FAR AS WHERE THEY GET THEIR INFORMATION AND WHO THEY SHARE THEIR INFORMATION WITH, ANYTHING SURPRISE YOU?

JACKIE SALIT: IT DIDN'T SURPRISE ME, BUT IT MOTIVATED ME. AND I WILL TELL YOU WHAT I MEAN BY THAT. YOU SEE I THINK WHAT WE ARE SEEING WITH INDEPENDENTS AND I THINK WE SAW IT IN THIS ELECTION AND, YOU KNOW, ON TUESDAY INDEPENDENTS WERE 31% OF THE NATIONAL ELECTORATE. THAT'S THE LARGEST SHARE OF THE VOTING SINCE THE BEGINNING OF EXIT POLLING. THAT IN ITSELF IS HUGE. INDEPENDENTS IF YOU LOOK AT THEIR POLITICAL BEHAVIOR AND THE KINDS OF ALLIANCES THAT THEY FORM, THEY ARE MOVING AROUND THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM. I MEAN, IF YOU-- THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF TALK ABOUT THE RUST BELT AND THE STATES THAT HAD GONE FOR OBAMA AND THEN WENT FOR TRUMP.

TED SIMONS: MM-HMM.

JACKIE SALIT: THIS YEAR, IF YOU DRILL DOWN INTO THOSE NUMBERS AND INTO THOSE STORIES ONE THE THINGS YOU SEE IS THAT INDEPENDENTS WHO WERE OBAMA SUPPORTERS, RIGHT, EIGHT YEARS AGO, FOUR YEARS AGO, MOVED TO TRUMP THIS YEAR. WELL, WHAT IS THAT ABOUT? IS THAT AN IDEOLOGICAL SHIFT? NO, I DON'T THINK IT IS. I THINK IT'S PART OF A PROCESS OF THE INDEPENDENTS TO TRYING TO BREAK OPEN THE SILOS AND BREAK WITH TRADITIONAL IDEALOLOGY AND TRADITIONAL PARTY AFFILIATION. IN A SENSE TRYING TO BREAK WITH THE HORIZONTAL PARADIGM ALL TOGETHER BECAUSE PART OF WHAT WE ARE SEEING IS INDEPENDENTS, LIKE MANY AMERICANS, FEEL THAT THE REAL DIVIDE IN THIS COUNTRY IS ACTUALLY NOT BETWEEN DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS BUT IT'S BETWEEN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND THE ELITE. AND SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE STUDY THAT MORRISON DID, IT SHOWS YOU WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE KIND OF AT A GRANULAR LEVEL IN PEOPLE'S DAY-TO-DAY LIVES. THAT'S WHY I THINK IT'S SO TERRIFIC.

THOM REILLY: IF YOU TAKE ARIZONA IN THE ELECTION, THE IMPACT OF THE INDEPENDENTS, IT NEEDS TO BE EXPLORED FURTHER. THE STATE, TOOK TRUMP BY 5% AND THEY ELECTED JOHN McCAIN BY 11 OR 12%. THEY GOT RID OF JOE ARPAIO BY 11%.

THOM REILLY: IN MARICOPA COUNTY.

THOM REILLY: IN MARICOPA COUNTY, AND THEY PASSED MINIMUM WAGE BUT THEY DEFEATED RECREATIONAL USE OF MARIJUANA. SO PEOPLE ARE NOT VOTING BY PARTISAN LINE. AND INDEPENDENTS TEND TO REJECT THE NOTION OF PARTISAN PLATFORM, AND CHOOSE ISSUES.

TED SIMONS: SO WE HAVE ABOUT 30 SECONDS LEFT HERE. GIVE ME A HEADLINE ON THIS REPORT WHAT DO WE TAKE FROM THIS.

JACKIE SALIT: INDEPENDENTS WILL LEAD US TO A NEW AMERICAN POLITICAL CULTURE.

TED SIMONS: DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT HEADLINE.

THOM REILLY: INDEPENDENTS CAN SERVE AS A BRIDGING TO ENCOURAGE CONVERSATION BETWEEN A POLITICAL DIVIDE.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. VERY GOOD. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US. WE APPRECIATE IT.