Does a smartphone make an older American voter more like the young, tech-savvy types who were critical to Barack Obama’s success in 2008?
Not so much, suggests a new poll by Velti, a mobile marketing and advertising technology firm. Sure, all those college students permanently wired to their iPhones or Androids went overwhelmingly for Obama in the last election. And political analysts think easy access to the Internet had something to do with it: Smartphones made it easy for even a Ramen-noodle-eating student to make a campaign contribution, since it takes just a couple of taps on the phone to give $5 (or even the $3 the Obama campaign has been pleading for of late). People who make even a tiny contribution become literally invested in a campaign, experts say, and are then more likely to actually vote.
But it appears to be the age group and not the mobile device that makes the difference, Velti found in its online poll. Overall, 49 percent of iPhone/Android users said that they planned to vote for Obama, compared with 31 percent who said they’d vote for Republican Mitt Romney. Obama even had a 10-point advantage among higher-income smartphone owners, winning 49 percent to Romney’s 39 percent among those earning $75,000 a year or more.
But the picture was different among smartphone-wielding retirees, with Romney trouncing Obama 57 percent to 34 percent. Four years ago Obama lost the 65-and-older demographic to Republican John McCain, 53 percent to 45 percent, according exit polls.
Maybe it’s just like buying a red Corvette: Using the same technology as a twentysomething doesn’t make you look or act like one. And according to Velti, it might not make you vote like one, either. —Susan Milligan