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Poll: Online Surveys Tilted To GOP

Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to participate in online surveys, according to a poll that found a modest growth in the number of people using the Internet to get campaign news.

Among those who go online to catch up on politics, almost half of Republicans, 46 percent, said they like to register their opinions in online surveys.

Fewer than three in 10 Democrats, 28 percent, said they like to participate in the online surveys, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, in cooperation with the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Half of those who said they like to take online polls were Republicans while one in five were Democrats and one in four were independents.

With Republicans more likely than Democrats to go online for political news, that tilts the makeup of those online survey respondents heavily towards the GOP.

Such online surveys are used to spark interest in use of Web sites both by the major television networks and by political Web sites.

Representatives of the scientific polling industry often complain that the profusion of online surveys can confuse people about actual public opinion. The online surveys simply show how many people logged in to the Web site and sent a response.

The percentage of Internet users who went online for election news in 2002 was 22 percent, up slightly from 15 percent in 1998, the year of the last midterm congressional election.

Television news remains the primary source of election information for the overall population and among Internet users.

In the general population, a solid majority of people, 66 percent, were more likely to rely on television as their main source of campaign news; that's twice the number who cited newspapers. The Internet lagged far behind at 7 percent.

The poll of 2,745 adults was taken between Oct. 30 and Nov. 24 and has an error margin of plus or minus 2 percentage points, slightly larger for Internet users and those who go online for political news.