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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2007, 08:44 GMT
Americans embrace politics online
George Bush and Dick Cheney
Americans turned to net during 2006 mid-term election campaign
Americans are increasingly using the internet as their primary source of political news, a study has found.

The report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project also found that more people are contributing to political debate via their own blogs.

While it stops short of claiming the net has politicised Americans, the report sees a growing online influence on how people think about civic issues.

The prevalence of broadband in US homes is one reason for the growth.

Nearly half of US homes now have a broadband connection and the internet is playing an increasing role in daily lives.

"Turbo-charged" activism

"Broadband is now part of the rhythm of people's lives, including the civic rhythm," said report author Lee Rainie.

Some 15% of Americans said that the internet was the place they got most of their news during the mid-term election campaign, up from 7% for the last mid-term election.

"People see the internet as providing more information than other news channels. It offers a variety of perspectives," said Mr Rainie.

Barack Obama
US senator used web for a major announcement

Increasingly Americans are turning to international online news sources to get a perspective on how domestic political life is played out on the wider stage.

"The BBC News website is among the most popular," said Mr Rainie.

The survey could find no direct evidence that the internet is drawing previously uninvolved people into the political debate but it did find that the internet has allowed activists to become "turbo-charged".

"The vanguard of YouTubers and bloggers has become influential in politics. Those who wish to engage voters around a particular issue or candidate have many more tools at their disposal," said Mr Rainie.

It is not just citizens who are finding the net a useful tool in untangling thorny political issues, politicians themselves are keen to embrace new technology.

Barack Obama, a popular US senator, chose to announce himself in the race to be the next Democrat president via a video on his website last week.

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