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MySpace touts early success with political polling initiative

The News Corp.-owned social network says its young membership is more politically active and less adherent to party affiliations than the general population.

Some people say political polls mean nothing. MySpace disagrees: the News Corp.-owned social network has announced that the results of its first "Impact" political polls are in, and that it will continue conducting polls each month as the 2008 presidential election draws closer.

According to MySpace representatives, the poll revealed a few key facts: that MySpace's young user base is more politically engaged and active than the U.S. population at large, that they tend to be politically independent, and that they plan to vote in the 2008 election. It's convenient news for MySpace, which has been branding itself as a new-media political hub with its series of candidate dialogues co-sponsored by MTV, and a mock primary scheduled for the beginning of January.

Only MySpace users in the U.S. who will be of eligible voting age for the 2008 election (i.e., 18 by November 4, 2008) are able to vote in the monthly polls; the average age of respondees for the first one was 25. 86 percent of those respondees said that they were "extremely likely" or "likely" to vote in '08. They're not too keen on traditional party affiliations, either; 27 percent consider themselves "independent," compared to 8 percent of the general population.

But some of the poll's questions did break the responses down by party line: out of the MySpace users queried, 36 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Republicans, for example, defined the war on terror as the most pressing issue for the country. 29 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of Republicans chose "the economy." And 22 percent of Republicans, but only 8 percent of Democrats, selected "immigration."

The numbers that MySpace is stressing most of all are the ones that show the social network is politically active at the core. Responses showed that MySpace users are 139 percent more likely than the population at large "to have visited an online chat room with public officials or political candidates in the last 30 days," according to a release. They were also 29 percent more likely to have searched online for political information the day before the poll was taken, and 16 percent more likely to have read news online.

The methodology of the MySpace poll, as with any political survey, inevitably has some drawbacks. The first poll was conducted online between November 28 and December 4; banner ads invited a selection of users to participate, meaning that in order to even notice the invitation to participate, the MySpace user in question would have to proactively click through. Slightly less than 1,000 responses were compiled; considering MySpace counts about 70 million active user accounts in the U.S., it's a pretty small sample.