Legislators and Constituents: Examining Demographics and Online Communication Tools

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This study focuses on legislators' homepages as a political communication channel for constituents to remain informed of state legislative decisions and actions, as well as legislative issues. Included in this research is an examination of whether state legislators in the United States offer Internet tools and online relationship-building strategies as a means of political communication. Regression analysis of results from the content analysis of state legislators' official homepages (provided by their respective state legislatures) led the researchers to find for the most part, there is still a digital divide when considering the tools available on the legislative homepages that offer constituent relationship-building strategies as well as Internet tools. Constituents in some districts are able to utilize more Internet tools than those who live in others. Age, race and education of the legislators predicted more availability of tools of communication on homepages. Race, income and education of the constituents also predicted that more communication tools were available on legislators' homepages. The results suggest that even when considering the mountain of information available online, there are still some population segments that have online access to specific information relevant to their own districts and some who do not.