A survey of California policymakers and opinion leaders claims that online resources are becoming an increasingly important component in making political decisions.
Three companies issued a press release announcing the findings of the survey of 197 Californians, including legislators, lobbyists, government agency workers, public relations firms and the media. Though a relatively small sampling, it provides some insights to the growing influence of the Internet on decision-makers. The key findings, they say:
- 73 percent say they are going online for information more than ever and 44 percent say they are watching less television than before.
- More than 70 percent check their email every hour or more. Nearly 65 percent spend three hours or more each day using the Web. More than 87 percent do their reading in the morning.
- More than half read blogs (including, we hope, The Thicket), and nearly one in four have listened to a podcast (including, we hope, The Conference Report.)
The coasts usually serve as harbinger of trends and, based on our anecdotal discussions with state legislators, reliance on the Internet as a legislative tool is growing -- though we hear little evidence that decisions are being made based on the information found there. Our informal surveys also indicate that more often it is the staff person who is finding the information for the legislators. And younger legislators are more likely to be technology users than older ones.
As these trends continue, advocacy groups that embrace the Web and fill it with information that is easy to use will have the edge in advancing their positions. Those that can break their information down to legislative districts and have well-developed message points will draw the most traffic and earn the most influence.