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A Tale of the Missing Audience

The 2000 GOP convention can accurately be described as the first authentic Internet convention. About three dozen Internet outfits provided continuous coverage from Philadelphia and several hundred others offered convention-based information or news. This supply, however, was not matched by a demand for Internet content. Our survey indicates that Americans had almost no interest in experiencing the convention over the Internet.

  Table 4: Time spent paying attention to Convention on the Internet
A few seconds 66%
1 to 5 minutes 13%
6 to 10 minutes 7%
11 to 30 minutes 12%
31 to 60 minutes 3%
Source: Vanishing Voter Poll, Aug. 1-6, 2000.

On the typical convention day, just over one-quarter of the respondents in our Vanishing Voter Project survey claimed to have been on the Internet, but only 34% of these respondents could recall having come across anything about the convention that day on the Internet. When asked how much time they spent on the convention material they encountered, 66% said "just a few seconds" in other words, only enough time to move on to something else (see Table 4).

The vast majority of Internet contacts were inadvertent. When those who had been on the Internet during the past 24 hours were asked whether they had deliberately set out to find material on the GOP convention, only 16% said they had done so. The great majority of them went to a news site. Not a single respondent in our survey claimed to have participated in a convention-dedicated chat group. Only two respondents claimed to have visited a web site dedicated to continuous convention coverage.

When these findings are expressed in terms of all adults-whether they have Internet access or not and whether they were actually on the Internet on a given day or not-the picture is as follows: only 1 in 10 Americans on the typical day saw anything at all on the Internet about the GOP convention; only 1 in 30 spent more than a few seconds looking at Internet-based convention material; only 1 in 63 sought out convention information, and only about 1 in 500 participated in a convention-dedicated site.

Whither the Convention Audience? >>

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