Google India released a study titled 'Urban Indian Voters', compiled to understand the impact of the Internet in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. TNS performed the offline survey for Google India, covering 108 constituencies, which represents 20 percent of the total 543 constituencies in the country - a fairly large sample group.
The 108 constituencies in Google's Urban Indian Voters survey were spread over 86 cities. The study covered over 41,000 people, with a focus on 7042 respondents who were registered voters in the same constituency, and are active users of internet. 68% of the respondents were in the age group of 18 to 35 years, indicating that a large percentage of the urban Indian voters who are active users of internet are relatively young. 63% of the respondents were male, and 37% were female.
Google's Urban Indian Voters survey revealed that 37% of urban Indian registered voters were already online, and access the internet regularly. Contrary to the popular belief - the study found that the young urban Indian voters are heavily engaged online and actively involved in the electoral process with 85% of respondents saying that they have voted in previous elections. 64% of the respondents for this question were in age group of 18-25 years.
In terms of the just concluded Lok Sabha elections, 94% of the respondents said that they will vote. Interestingly, a large proportion of the urban Indian registered voters (42%) were undecided about whom to vote for in the elections.
Both parties and local candidates got equal weightage from the urban Indian voters in terms of influence on their voting decision. 35% said their decision will be based on the party and 36% said local candidate matters to them. Interestingly, 11% said the prime ministerial candidate of the political party will play an important role in their final voting decision. In the west, the preference for the local candidate was the highest at 45% and was the lowest in east at 27%. These findings were consistent across all age groups.
Speaking about the study, RajanAnandan, Vice President and Managing Director, Google India, said "A significant population of registered urban Indian voters are now online and spend an equal amount of time on online and offline media. The findings reveal that the internet will play an important role in influencing the large undecided urban Indian population in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. There is an opportunity for political parties and candidates to engage the urban Indian youth on the internet. From Google's perspective, we are already seeing a massive growth in elections related search queries."
The Google Urban Indian Voters study also found that a large percentage of surveyed voters were not satisfied with the information about political candidates on the internet at this stage. 45% urban India voters said that they would like to see more information about political parties on the internet to help them make an informed decision. 57% said they would like to see information on local issues. 48% said they would like to see updates on development activities undertaken in the constituency and 43% said they wanted to see information on party manifesto.
The respondents also said that they would like to actively engage with the politicians online and politicians should allow citizens to comment online, and also respond to their comments on social media platforms. Political leaders with strong online presence were perceived as progressive and dynamic. A very high percentage of respondents (65%) said that they do not actively share their political views on social media platforms.
The study also found that over one-third of the surveyed urban Indian voters consciously started looking for election/politics related information more than three months prior to the elections. This was in line with the search trends on Google. Election-related search queries on Google start peaking three to four months in advance, and there was 500% growth in the overall query volumes during the last Lok Sabha elections. This time around, with growing internet penetration, an 800% growth was recorded in the query volume by the end of 2013 only. Mobile is becoming an important source of accessing the internet with 25% of election-related queries coming from mobile phones.
In addition to the survey, Google India also looked at the election and politics-related Google Search trends for the last six months, specifically, from March 1 to August 31, 2013.