According to research conducted by eMarketer, the 2012 election is the first truly "social" presidential race. Initial research conducted on this topic in the form of surveys filled out by social media users showed that users did not believe a candidate's presence on social media influenced their opinions. However, a new study conducted by eMarketer goes against this initial finding.
A more recent study conducted by AYTM Market Research that surveyed US Internet users showed more than a quarter said social media had in some way or another influenced their opinions on the presidential campaigns. There was a significant amount of respondents that reported learning information about the campaigns via Twitter.
The link to the survey information is below:
I find this study interesting as I am currently also taking a Media and Politics course where we have been discussing the role of media, specifically social media, in the 2012 presidential campaigns. I believe that the self-reported surveys would show a lower percentage of social media users saying they are influenced by candidates' social media presence because it is happening somewhat subconsciously. Until I was told to pay attention to it, I hadn't realized how large the candidates' presence truly was through social media. Reports of debates and conferences are all over social media. Therefore, when the study was done by surveying and observing consumers' difference in opinions about the campaigns following social media use I believe the results would be more accurate. People are influenced by what they see on social media every day whether they realize it or not, it is almost impossible to avoid but it is important to take the time and recognize what is influential and what is not.