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Cable TV's a Political Dynamo: Survey

Want to sway voters? Buy an ad on cable TV.

That's the takeaway from a survey -- sponsored by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau -- finding that about two-thirds of voters prefer cable to broadcast for news and information on local candidates and issues, and seven out of 10 opt for cable on national elections.

With the 2012 election season getting into full swing, the CAB this week touted its research as proving that "television is the ultimate political machine."

In local elections, 68% of those polled said they prefer to find out about candidates and issues from cable versus 32% who cited broadcast. In national races, 70% said cable was their preferred source of information over broadcast TV.

More broadly, TV as a category beat other forms media.

Overall, 85% of survey respondents said they first learn about national political candidates and issues from TV, followed by Internet sources (54%) and newspapers (49%).

Nearly two-thirds of voters (64%) said TV has some influence on their final vote in national elections, compared with 40% for Internet media, 37% for newspapers, 27% for word-of-mouth, 19% for radio, 14% for social media and 8% for direct mail.

On the local front, TV also came out ahead of other media, although by a smaller margin. About 46% of those polled said TV influences their final vote in local races followed by newspapers (43%), Internet (34%), word-of-mouth (34%), radio (21%), social media (18%) and direct mail (16%).

TV also boasts the highest overall influence in voters' decisions, the CAB survey found. When asked, "Which of the following typically has the greatest influence on your decision to vote for a specific candidate and/or issue?", 32% said television, 23% said newspapers/magazines, 18% said worth-of-mouth, 17% said public meetings -- and just 3% cited conversations on social media.

One week prior to election day, 60% of voters are undecided in national races and 75% haven't made up their minds in local contests, according to the CAB survey. And TV ads get noticed, the trade group noted, with 61% of respondents agreeing that "I typically notice political ads on TV."

The Internet-based survey was conducted by political polling firm Peter D. Hart Research Associates. The Political Pulse 2012 poll of 500 registered voters 18 and older was conducted over one week in November 2011.

A copy of the CAB-sponsored survey, "Election Media - How Voters Decide," can be downloaded here.