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Exclusive poll: Most Americans see the digital divide as an election issue

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Apr 11, 2024
Illustration of ethernet cables arranged to look like the U.S. flag

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Most Americans view internet access as an important election year issue, according to a survey shared exclusively with Axios.

The big picture: A majority say they see affordable internet access as a basic necessity and that the government is responsible for ensuring people have that access, the poll commissioned by global telecoms software provider Amdocs found.

By the numbers: 71% of Americans said they believe it's important for presidential candidates to consider closing the digital divide and improving internet access for all, according to the March survey.

  • This was consistent across generations: baby boomers (69%), Gen X (69%), millennials (78%) and Gen Z (70%).
  • 84% of those polled said they consider connectivity necessary, like electricity and running water.
  • 17% of low-income households have nine or more devices, up from 13% last year.

Most respondents agreed that the government is responsible for ensuring people have internet access. A minority said it's up to businesses.

Regarding AI, 77% of those surveyed said they were concerned that the technology will widen the digital divide.

  • 27% said businesses using and offering AI experiences need to better prioritize how they address the digital divide.

What's next: President Biden and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are likely to tout IIJA benefits, such as the Affordable Connectivity Program, on the campaign trail in the coming months.

Yes, but: Politicians' legislative records in this area could be undermined as more the 23 million low income households across the country are poised to lose the ACP internet bill discount by the end of the month.

Methodology: The March 2024 survey, conducted by Dynata, is based on 1,000 U.S. consumers 18+ in age and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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