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Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Sunday, 7 March 2010

Yorkshire voters say cyber campaigning is not working

Faith Wilkinson
Trainee Journalist-Leeds Trinity University College

Twitter

The 2010 general election will be fought over the internet as well as on the doorstep.

Candidates banking on using the internet to win support in key marginal seats could be disappointed.

As the General Election campaign takes off many are turning to Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs and You Tube.

But a survey for the Politics Show in one Yorkshire marginal indicates few voters are receiving the message.

Even the so-called "internet generation" of students had no interested in virtual electioneering, the survey found.

Old ways the best

A team of trainee journalists from Leeds Trinity University College carried out the survey. Its aim was to provide a snap-shot of the efficiency of the internet in delivering a political message.

The survey team of trainee journalists from Leeds trinity University College
The survey team with Politics Show cameraman John Anderson

They contacted seventy five households in three separate areas; a former council estate in north Leeds; a more affluent residential area in nearby Otley and student flats in Headingley.

All are in the Liberal Democrat-held marginal seat of Leeds North West where all the party's candidates promote themselves heavily on the internet.

Only 60% of all those contacted have access to the internet at home and of these only half think this type of campaigning would make any difference to the outcome of the general election.

Old fashioned door-step canvassing, leaflets and television coverage are far more popular. Over 80% of those contacted said they will vote for the candidate who has the biggest presence in the community and who is accessible to them on a daily basis.

Student surprise

Surprisingly, the demographic least effected by the campaigns on social networking sites were the "internet savvy" student population living in Headingley.

98% of the students surveyed have a Facebook account but none use it to send or receive political messages, nor will it alter how they place their vote.

Many had a high level of scepticism surrounding politicians on social networking sites. They felt that Facebook was for socialising rather than politicising.

In contrast, 4 in 5 of the older generation were apathetic towards both online politics and using the internet in general. Many had never heard of Twitter and had no idea how to use it.

The survey found that although the internet cannot be ignored as a form of campaigning neither should it be the sole outlet for political messaging.



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