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Survey of Electors Following the 41st General Election

Appendix 6: Technological Profile

This section provides a technological profile of electors. It includes such things as Internet access and use, and frequency of discussing politics online. The questions in this section were addressed to all respondents.

Most Have Access to Internet at Home

The majority of eligible electors (86%) have access to the Internet in their home; 14% do not. This represents an increase since 2008 when 81% of electors had Internet in their home. This increase is of note, as there is a relationship between having Internet at home and likelihood of having voted. Eighty-seven percent of those who voted reported having Internet at home, compared with 78% of those who did not have access at home. Additionally, amongst non-voters, the likelihood of saying that they would have voted had it been possible to do so online was understandably higher amongst those with Internet access at home than those without (64% vs. 25%). Aboriginals were less likely to say they have Internet at home (68% vs. 86%), while youth were more likely to have it (94% vs. 86%).

Almost half (49%) have a profile on Facebook, while 37% use instant messaging, such as MSN Live Messenger or Skype, and 26% have a smart phone with Internet access, such as an iPhone or Blackberry. Almost one in ten (9%) have a Twitter account. 2011 has seen an increase over 2008 in those with a Facebook profile (49% vs. 34%) and those who use instant messaging (37% vs. 32%).Footnote 27 The likelihood of having a Facebook profile was higher amongst non-voters than amongst voters (56% vs. 48%). It was also higher amongst those not interested in politics (55% vs. 48% amongst those who report a political interest).

Youth are more likely than the general population to have or use each item, while Aboriginal electors are somewhat less likely to say they have a smart phone with Internet access (20% vs. 26%) and to use instant messaging (32% vs. 37%).

Internet Access and Use graph
Text description of "Internet Access and Use" graph

The likelihood of non-voters saying that they would have voted online had it been possible to do so was higher amongst users of Facebook (68% vs. 37%), smart phones (35% vs. 20%), and instant messaging (44% vs. 27%). This discrepancy amongst Facebook users and non-users is of particular note, as the likelihood of reporting having voted was lower amongst Facebook users than non-users.

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of having access to the Internet at home was higher amongst:

  • Electors under 25 (94%) and those between 25 and 44 (93% vs. 65‑87% of older electors).
  • Students (96%), followed by employed electors (93% vs. 71‑76% of others).
  • Electors without a disability (88% vs. 67% with a disability).
  • Electors with some university education (96%) or a university degree (95% vs. 72‑89% of others).
  • Anglophones (88% vs. 81% of Francophones).
  • Electors who are interested in politics (88% vs. 80% who are not interested).
  • Electors who followed the campaign closely (88% vs. 80% who did not).
  • Those who said they voted (87% vs. 78% who said they did not vote).

Access to the Internet at home and household income are positively related. Sixty-seven percent of electors with household incomes of less than $40,000 said they have Internet at home compared with 88% of those with household incomes of $40,000‑$60,000, 94% of those with household incomes of $60,000‑$100,000, and 98% of those with household incomes of $100,000 or more.

Profile of Technology Users by Type of Service/Device

Sociodemographic differences

The following subgroups were the most likely to have or use each of the following:

Facebook:

  • Younger electors (86% 18‑24; 65% 25‑44; 40% 45‑64; 15% 65+).
  • Electors born in Canada (51% vs. 42% born outside Canada).
  • Students (84% vs. 25‑57% of others).
  • Electors with some university education (70% vs. 39‑52% of others).
  • Electors with larger household incomes (51‑56% over $40,000 vs. 41% under $40,000).
  • Women (53% vs. 45% men).
  • Electors who are not interested in politics (55% vs. 48% who are interested).
  • Electors without a disability (51% vs. 32% with a disability).
  • Those who said they did not vote (56% vs. 48% who did vote).

Twitter:

  • Men (11% vs. 8% of women).
  • Electors in urban locations (11% vs. 4% rural).
  • Younger electors18% 18‑24; 14% 25‑44; 6% 45‑64; 2% 65+).
  • Students (24% vs. 3-11% of others).
  • Electors with at least some university education (15% some university; 13% university degree; 6‑8% less educated).
  • Electors with household incomes over $60,000 (12% vs. 7‑8% with smaller incomes).
  • Electors without a disability (10% vs. 3% with a disability).
  • Anglophones (10% vs. 7% Francophones).

Smartphone:

  • Anglophones (29% vs. 16% Francophones).
  • Men (31% vs. 22% women).
  • Electors in urban locations (28% vs. 20% rural).
  • Electors who are interested in politics (28% vs. 21% not interested).
  • Electors who followed the campaign closely (28% vs. 22% who did not).
  • Younger electors (42% 18-24; 37% 25‑44; 22% 45‑64; 4% 65+).
  • Students (41% vs. 7-35% of others).
  • Electors without a disability (28% vs. 7% with a disability).
  • Electors with some university education (39% vs. 18‑34% of others).
  • Electors with household incomes over $100,000 (51% vs. 11‑27% with smaller incomes).

Instant Messaging:

  • Younger electors (62% 18‑24; 43% 25‑44; 34% 45‑64; 18% 65+).
  • Students (66% vs. 24‑42% of others).
  • Electors with some university education (51% vs. 29‑44% of others).
  • Electors living in urban locations (39% vs. 33% rural).
  • Electors household incomes over $60,000 (43‑35% vs. 28‑37% with smaller incomes).
  • Electors without a disability (39% vs. 22% with a disability).


Most Do Not Discuss Politics Online

Less than one in five eligible electors reported discussing politics online. Very few of these (3%) said they do this often, while 15% said they do it sometimes. Conversely, the great majority (81%) said they never discuss politics online. There is a relationship between discussing politics online and voting: the likelihood of discussing politics online was higher amongst those who voted than amongst those who did not vote (19% vs. 13%). Looked at another way 89% of those who discussed politics online either often or sometimes also reported having voted compared with 83% of those who said they never discuss politics online.Use of Internet to Discuss Politics graph
Text description of "Use of Internet to Discuss Politics" graph

Also, non-voters who reported discussing politics online were more likely to say they would have voted online had it been possible to do so (70% vs. 55% amongst those who do not discuss politics online).

Youth are more likely than the general population to discuss politics online sometimes (34% vs. 15%) and slightly more likely to do so often (5% vs. 3%). This likely underscores their greater use of and comfort with newer technologies rather than engagement with politics per se, since the survey indicates that youth expressed less interest in politics, followed the election less closely, and were less likely to vote than older Canadians.

Sociodemographic differences

The likelihood of discussing politics online was higher amongst:

  • Electors under 25 (39% vs. 10‑20% of older electors).
  • Students (51% vs. 10‑23% of others).
  • Electors without a disability (19% vs. 14% with a disability).
  • Electors with some university education (37% vs. 12‑24% of others).
  • Electors living in urban locations (20% vs. 14% living in rural locations).
  • Electors who are interested in politics (22% vs. 5% who are not interested).
  • Electors who followed the campaign closely (23% vs. 8% who did not).
  • Electors who said they voted (19% vs. 13% who did not vote).

Footnote 27 Respondents were not asked about smart phone or Twitter use before 2011.