A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Our Subscribers Speak

Once again, they find us clear, reliable, unbiased and useful.


Summary

FactCheck.org’s subscribers report to us that they find our articles clear, helpful and unbiased.

More than 15,000 who responded to an online survey invitation also told us that they are exceptionally well educated. More than one in three hold an advanced degree, and 84 percent have at least some college education. The average age is 55, and 98 percent reported that they voted in this election. One in 10 is a teacher, and nearly 2 percent are journalists, most of whom say they find our articles useful when preparing their own news reports.

The results of this latest survey are quite similar to what we found in our survey following the 2004 presidential election.

  • In both surveys, 99 percent said they found our articles clear and easy to understand.
  • In both surveys, 93 percent said they found our articles helpful in forming an opinion of the candidates.
  • This time, 79 percent said we made them more confident they were casting the right vote, compared with 78 percent in 2004.
  • Back then, 94 percent found us free of political bias, while this time just over 91 percent did so. As before, the few who saw some bias tended to think we leaned Democratic, but some thought our bias was Republican, or even Libertarian.

For more details, please read our full Analysis, where we present our data in  graphic form.

Analysis

This survey was conducted Nov. 6 to 15. A single invitation was e-mailed over a period of four days to each of the 90,085 FactCheck.org subscribers whose e-mail addresses were on file as of Nov. 5. We received 15,493 responses, a response rate of better than 17 percent, which we consider quite good. We sent no reminder or follow-up invitations. The data reported here were downloaded at 2:40 p.m. EST Nov. 15. We are grateful to all who took the time to respond, and who continue to respond. We will record additional responses to refine our data for internal use.

A note of caution: This is not a random sample of public opinion. It cannot reflect the opinions of those who may have read our articles but did not sign up to have new articles e-mailed to them. And it is not even a scientific sample of our subscriber list, since only those who opened our e-mailed invitation and then took the time and effort to respond are recorded here. It does, however, reflect the opinions of thousands of our most highly motivated fans, and for that reason we value it.

The findings also, as noted in the summary, are quite similar to our earlier survey in 2004. That consistency gives us added confidence that this admittedly unscientific, self-selected sample is telling us something worthwhile about our audience.

Here is what we found:

Nearly all found us clear and easy to understand.

Question: I found the information on the site clear and easy to understand.

 


Nine out of 10 said we were unbiased. One in 15 thought we were pro-Democrat, but a few said we were pro-Republican and others weren’t sure.

Question: I found the information on the site to be free of political bias.

Question: Was the bias you detected pro-Democrat/liberal, or pro-Republican/ conservative, or some other? 

Those finding us guilty of "other" bias were a mixed lot. A few detected "Libertarian" bias, and one respondent put down that we leaned toward "Bull Moose Progressive." More often, respondents complained that we leaned in different directions at different times. Several accused us of straining to create a "false equivalence" by criticizing their favored candidate for petty mistakes while critiquing the more serious falsehoods of the opponent.


95 percent said they found us to be reliable.

Question: Did you find the information to be reliable and accurate?


Better than nine out of 10 found us helpful in judging candidates.

Question: How helpful did you find the information in forming your opinion of the candidates and their positions on the issues?


Of those who voted, eight out of 10 said we made them more confident they had made the right choice.

Question: (asked of the 98 percent of respondents who said they voted) Did FactCheck.org’s information make you more confident that you made the right choice, less confident, or did FactCheck.org’s information make no difference at all?


Most journalists found our articles useful in their work, and many quoted us as an authority in their stories.

Question: (asked of the 1.7 percent of respondents who said they were journalists) Did you find FactCheck.org’s information useful in preparing news reports?

Question: Did you cite FactCheck.org as an authority in news reports?


One of every nine subscribers is a teacher. Most are at the high-school and college level. Many, including nearly half of high-school teachers, use FactCheck.org material in class.
 
Question: Are you a teacher?
 

Question: What level do you teach?

 
Did you use FactCheck.org material in class?
Percent who said yes
Grades 1-6 13.1%
Grades 7-8 27.7%
Grades 9-12 47.3%
College undergrad 42.7%
Graduate 20.3%

 

But only 15 percent of teachers said they had visited our educational site, FactCheckED.org, where we offer lesson plans and other classroom materials. Of those who visited that site, 46 percent said they found material they used in class.


One subscriber in six worked in a presidential campaign. All but a few were unpaid volunteers.

Question: Did you work in a presidential campaign in 2008, whether directly for a candidate, or through a party or independent group?

 
Which of these choices best describes your campaign position?
Unpaid volunteer candidate, state or local level
34.9%
Unpaid volunteer for party, state or local level 34.8%
Unpaid volunteer for candidate, national level 20.6%
Unpaid volunteer for party, national level 8.4%
Paid staff of candidate, state or local level 0.5%
Paid staff of political party, state or local level 0.3%
Paid staff of political party, national level 0.3%
Paid staff of candidate, national level 0.2%



More than half of Democratic campaign workers and four out of 10 Republican workers said FactCheck.org made their own candidate more careful about stating facts.

Question: Did FactCheck cause the candidate you SUPPORTED to be more careful about stating facts accurately?


But fewer than one in five campaign workers of either party said we made the opposing candidate more careful.

Question: Did FactCheck cause the candidate you OPPOSED to be more careful about stating facts accurately?

 


The average age of the respondents is 55. Men outnumber women, 54 percent to 46 percent. Two-thirds have college degrees, and one in three has an advanced degree.
 
 
How old are you?
17 and under 0.2%
18-24 1.9%
25-29 3.0%
30-39 10.7%
40-49 16.1%
50-64 41.6%
65 or over 26.4%
Average 55 years

 

What is your gender?

Male 54.2%
Female 45.8%


What is your highest level of formal education?
 
No high school diploma 0.5%

High school diploma or equivalent

5.2%
Some college, less than 4-yr degree 25.9%
Bachelor’s degree 33.3%
Master’s degree or higher 35.2%

 

— by Brooks Jackson

Sources

"FactCheck.org 2008 Post-election User Survey" Online survey of subscribers conducted Nov. 6 – 15 2008. 

Note: Figures shown here are derived from 15,493 responses downloaded at 2:40 p.m. EST Nov. 15, 2008. Invitations were e-mailed over a period of four days to all 90,085 FactCheck.org subscribers whose e-mail addresses were on file as of Nov. 5, 2008. We continue to log a few additional responses to refine our data for internal use, but this report will serve as our final public report of survey results. We are grateful to all who took the time to respond.