This paper is intended to frame and describe a novel method of political party positioning within the European Union and beyond. Ever since the groundbreaking work by Downs in the 1950s, political scientists have derived a variety of methods to empirically determine the position of parties on dimensions measuring differences in policies or ideologies. Today, two sets of techniques dominate this research domain: expert surveys and manifesto/ programme coding. What is common to both techniques is that the positioning is done by qualified scholars and other experts outside the parties, and that it is not always possible to trace the grounds on which a party was coded in one way rather than another. The EU Profiler project, a large-scale, interdisciplinary and pan-European research endeavour, takes a step beyond these established methods by using party self-positioning and by offering full documentation. That is, and in addition to conventional expert coding, some 300 political parties in Europe have been invited to place themselves on 30 issue dimensions. Moreover, and in so far as it proved possible, each coded position for each party is fully documented with extracts from party manifestos, party leaders' speeches, or relevant press or policy statements. The resulting data offer unique opportunities for comparing the accuracy and efficiency among party positioning techniques, exploring for the first time and in a systematic way the auto-positioning of political parties throughout Europe, and offering close textual documentation for the positions taken on each issue dimension.
This study investigates the extent of candidates' use of the video sharing YouTube site in 2008, and analyzes which Congressional candidates were more likely to use this tool. A large majority of the major party candidates for the Senate opened YouTube channels as did a much smaller proportion of those running for House seats in 2008. This is about double the percentages of House and Senate candidates who made use of profiles on the social network Facebook site when these emerged as campaign vehicles in 2006. For House candidates, campaign fundraising is the only strategic resource that differentiates both having a YouTube channel and the number of videos posted to it. In addition to better financed candidates, those in competitive elections also were more likely to open channels. Incumbents joined better financed candidates in posting more videos to their channels. Percentage minority is the only constituency attribute related to YouTube use, and is significant only for the level of activity. YouTube is best understood as a vehicle for disseminating campaign communications produced by or for traditional media, especially television, and not so much as a new technology tool.
This paper explores the political consequences of online communication by drawing on John Dewey, Walt Whitman, and an aesthetic, passionate, and ultimately embodied conceptualization of democracy. Although online communication can facilitate certain democratic forms and enable democratic governance to be more efficient, it does not necessarily follow that online communication fosters a deeper democracy. Indeed, mediation of communication though emotional intensification, corporate control, and discovery through search engines can erode aesthetic democracy. A partial resolution to this problem can be found in the possibility of untethering democracy from the territorial state and and a cautious use of information technologies to reinforce aesthetic democracy imaginings.
This article discusses methods for automatic annotation of political texts for semantic fields - groups of words with related meanings. This type of annotation is useful when studying the structure of political ideology, from agendas to rhetoric. We argue that it is important to exclude the researcher from the construction of analytic categories, due to her own susceptibility to the very phenomenon under analysis. In this vein, three types of automatic annotation are presented - unsupervised clustering, dictionary-based approaches, and a method based on relevant experimental data. All methods are applied to analyzing Margaret Thatcher's political rhetoric. We find that unsupervised clustering is most useful for tracing agendas/topics; dictionary-based methods are most effective in a comparative setting, whereas the last method is the most promising for detecting off-topic, singular uses of semantic domains, which are often rhetorical tools used to achieve a political end. Validity, applicability, strengths and weaknesses of each method and of their combinations are addressed in detail.
We suggest a set of procedures utilising a range of technologies by which a major democratic
deﬁcit of modern society can be addressed. The mechanism, whilst it makes limited use of
cryptographic techniques in the background, is based around objects and procedures with which
voters are currently familiar. We believe that this holds considerable potential for the extension of
democratic participation and control.
Studies on active learning in college classrooms evince that student-student interaction in discussion settings is beneficial to learning as it promotes cognitive engagement, student satisfaction, and positive learning outcomes including higher-order learning and critical thinking skills. While these findings apply primarily to the face-to-face classroom, recent research indicates that these positive outcomes can also be effectively recreated in the online environment. In this study, we offer a preliminary look at the efficacy of a conditioning intervention: The role of student preceptors in promoting student interaction and elevating discussion quality. Using data from 23 discussion groups in a large (279 students) online course, we measure qualitative indicators of discussion activity under two quasi-experimental conditions: preceptor-as-student and preceptor-as-GTA. In the control condition, no student preceptor was present. We find that high-quality postings made by a student preceptor indeed triggers higher-quality postings by other students, especially those that post in temporal proximity to the preceptor.
This paper presents the US Election 2004 Web Monitor, a public Web portal that captured trends in political media coverage before and after the 2004 US Presidential Election. Developed by the authors of this article, the webLyzard suite of Web mining tools provided the required functionality to aggregate and analyze about half a million documents in weekly intervals (www.webLyzard.com). The study paid particular attention to the editorial slant, defined as the quantity and tone of a Web site’s coverage as influenced by its editorial position. The observable attention and attitude towards the candidates served as proxies of editorial slant. The system identified attention by determining the frequency of candidate references and measured attitude towards the candidate by looking for positive and negative expressions that co-occur with these references. Keywords and perceptual maps summarized the most important topics associated with the candidates, placing special emphasis on environmental issues.
While much literature on the Internet has drawn heavily on the ideas of normalization or optimism, this article seeks to define a more complex relationship between existing political institutions and new technology. With reference to the development of campaign finance strategies in the U.S. and the UK, it will aim to show that existing political circumstances and technology share a dialectic relationship when it comes to generating outcomes. The success of online fundraising in the U.S. is certainly reforming political life, but it is the product of longstanding arrangements and beliefs that have catalyzed its impact. In contrast in the United Kingdom, institutional arrangements have retarded the potential of the Web in this area.
In recent years, we have witnessed the notable accomplishments of numerous Internet-based large-scale collaborations, which typically rely on small contributions by many participants. In the first part of the paper we highlight the political relevance and significance of such collaborations, and we argue that Internet-based collaboration is turning into an important organizing principle for the production of a variety of goods by a range of political actors. In the second part, we analyze why the Internet is conducive for such collaborations and we focus on a number of factors, most significantly on the reduced costs of both individual contributions and the social organization of production, and on the large and excessive number of potential contributors attracted to focal collaborations.
A major concern in recent political discourse is that government has become both isolated from and unresponsive to its citizens. Democracy, by definition, demands a two-way flow of communication between government and civil society. ICTs have the potential to facilitate such improved flows of communication - hence, e-democracy and e-consultation. This paper initially draws on focus group discussions on the theme of (e)consultation conducted amongst activist citizens on the island of Ireland. High levels of frustration, scepticism and cynicism were expressed on the form, nature and process of extant consultation processes. In follow-up demonstrations, however, the preliminary findings are much more positive suggesting that the potential exists for using e-consultation technologies to enhance democratic processes.
Studies of rulemaking often conclude that members of the public participate infrequently, while businesses participate actively and are more likely to influence final rules. I analyze a series of rulemakings organized by the Copyright Office from 2000 to 2012. In contrast to the existing literature, I find high levels of public participation and a lack of influence by businesses over final rules. Instead, legal representation is the key predictor of influence over final rules. Finally, I argue that the existing literature has wrongly theorized about how to measure public participation in rulemaking, thereby mischaracterizing the rulemaking process as undemocratic.
This study extended prior findings examining traditional with cross-national time-series data analyses in sequences of Granger causality tests to examine the democratizing effects of internet and mobile phone diffusion through 2014. In this context, Media System Dependency (MSD) theory has suggested that in countries with high media diffusion or high sociopolitical instability, such emerging media diffusion should Granger cause democracy. However, no such relationships were observed when studying emerging media technology in the form of mobile phones or online access. Mobile diffusion was, however, observed to Granger cause sociopolitical instability in countries with high and low sociopolitical instability alike, as well as in countries with low media diffusion. These findings suggest that the diffusion of emerging media to date has not necessarily demonstrated the same democratizing capacity that MSD theory has previously ascribed to traditional media diffusion, and that any effects are indirect.
We collected tweets directed at the official Twitter account of the Canadian Public Health Office as well as comments on a Canadian Public Health Office press conference posted to YouTube. We used a mixed method corpus-assisted discourse analysis approach to categorize and analyze these data. We found key differences between comments on each platform, namely differences in tone and sarcasm in YouTube comments, and more balance in Twitter mentions. Findings suggest that studying public responses to health information on one platform in isolation does not provide an accurate picture. To generate a fuller picture of misinformation, researchers should conduct studies across digital platforms using diverse methods. This research could influence how studies of health communication and public opinion are approached in the future.
Social media platforms such as Twitter provide opportunities for governments to connect to foreign publics and influence global public opinion. In the current study, we used social and semantic network analysis to investigate China’s digital public diplomacy campaign during COVID-19. Our results show that Chinese state-affiliated media and diplomatic accounts created hashtag frames and targeted stakeholders to challenge the United States or to cooperate with other countries and international organizations, especially the World Health Organization. Telling China’s stories was the central theme of the digital campaign. From the perspective of social media platform affordance, we addressed the lack of attention paid to hashtag framing and stakeholder targeting in the public diplomacy literature.
We examine how internet media outlets in key Anglo-American democracies differed under a similar external shock: the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. COVID-19 posed a special challenge to democracy, juxtaposing it with alternative forms of government, which may be better positioned to deal with such a crisis. The online media, as the watchdog of democracy, played a key role. As the pandemic started to spread worldwide, three democracies – the USA, Canada, and New Zealand – were of particular interest. The USA had the highest number of cases and deaths, considerably more than its neighbor to the north. NZ was the democracy that most effectively dealt with the pandemic. We comprehensively study the coverage of the outbreak on the internet website of a newspaper of record in each. Data were harvested for the universe of 27,089 articles published online between mid-February and early May on the websites of the New York Times, New Zealand Herald, and the Globe and Mail. Natural learning processing and dependency parsing are the methods used to analyze the data. We find meaningful differences between the outlets in timing, structure, and content. Compared with their US counterpart, the online watchdogs of democracy in Canada and NZ – where COVID-19 politics were far more effective – barked louder, clearer and 2 weeks earlier.
In an earlier study, we examined the relationship between digital media use and six acts of political participation in the United States between 1996 and 2008. We found that digital media use was associated with participation more broadly in 2008 than in preceding years and concluded with a question about whether the relationship between digital media use and behavior might be strengthening over time. Here we add 2012 data to address that question. The extended time series, from 1996 to 2012, reinforced our main findings: (1) the relationship between digital media use and behavior exhibits highly idiosyncratic variation over time; and (2) political talk constitutes an exception because of its consistent and positive relationship with seeking political information online.
The apparent success of President Obama’s online election campaigns in the 2008 and 2012 U.S. presidential elections and the rapid growth in use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter by British voters since the last election has led to much speculation that 2010 would be a “watershed” moment for UK politicians and parties in their adoption of digital tools. This article seeks to measure the precise extent of online campaigning during the 2010 general election campaign and explain the patterns of adoption observed. It does so by using an extensive and original data set that measures the adoption of Web sites by candidates from six parties in all constituencies in England, and measures adoption and use of four types of social media for a smaller group of more competitive constituencies. It aims to test one of the leading theories in the field of online campaigning, the normalization thesis, using the most comprehensive and rigorous data collected in the United Kingdom to date. The normalization thesis states that actors who already have the most influence will be the ones most likely to benefit from new online campaign methods. This paper finds that although patterns of Web site adoption among candidates do support normalization overall, adoption and use of certain types of social media refute normalization on some measures, some to a strong degree.
This article investigates the use of social media by the 53 candidates for governor at the last Italian regional elections in April 2010 and further explores the two hypotheses on the role of online technologies for political parties—the “politics as usual” and the “equalization” hypotheses—which begin from two different points of view: first, regional elections, and second, the candidate's appropriation, negotiation, or resistance to the convergence and participatory culture distinctive of the contemporary media ecology. The aim of this article is to address the following research questions: (a) Which are the different degrees of appropriation of convergence and participatory culture among Italian candidates during the 2010 regional elections according to political parties' dimension in terms of members, voters and resources?; and (b) Are different degrees of appropriation of convergence and participatory culture positively associated with political parties dimensions?
Although there is increasing research about the influence of political use of social networking sites on audience members, few studies have examined the content in candidates’ pages in these sites. To fully comprehend the impact of these online political messages, an analysis of the messages themselves is fundamental. The present study uses theoretical concepts from functional theory, political advertising, emotional appeals, and social endorsement to conduct a content analysis of the official Facebook posts of U.S. Presidential candidates in 2008 and 2012 elections. Results demonstrate that John McCain and Mitt Romney attacked more, while Barack Obama acclaimed more. The Republican candidates used higher percentage of fear appeals, while Barack Obama used humor and enthusiasm in his posts. Implications are discussed.
This essay provides a descriptive interpretation of the role of digital media in the campaigns of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 with a focus on two themes: personalized political communication and the commodification of digital media as tools. The essay covers campaign finance strategy, voter mobilization on the ground, innovation in social media, and data analytics, and why the Obama organizations were more innovative than those of his opponents. The essay provides a point of contrast for the other articles in this special issue, which describe sometimes quite different campaign practices in recent elections across Europe.
This article examines who sees party and campaign information through social media, as well as which people share this information through social media. Using the 2009 German Longitudinal Election Study, we find that younger party members and strong partisans are more likely to see party and campaign information through social media, regardless of their income, education, or gender. In addition, party members are significantly more likely to share party and campaign information through social media. These results are promising because they suggest that parties can engage younger voters through social media sites. Moreover, they show that when parties post campaign information online, they make it easier for party members to mobilize people who might otherwise not be exposed to campaign information.
Content analyses have shown that German political parties make use of party Web sites in different ways, leading to unequal levels of mobilizing, informing, interacting, and participating features. This article examines whether or not the use of party Web sites has an impact on voting by using individual-level data from a representative survey of Germany in the European parliamentary elections of 2009. Although voting behavior was primarily influenced by well-known factors such as party identification and issue competence, evidence suggests that the use of party Web sites could have positive effects on voting for the Greens and the Social Democrats.
In Canada, Twitter still played a mostly peripheral role in political communication, mobilization, and organizing in 2010. This study provides a snapshot in time of how Twitter was redefining local political campaigns before social media become ubiquitous in electioneering. Focusing on the 2010 municipal elections in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (the nation’s capital), this study considers how and to what extent social networking platforms help shape the dynamics of local electioneering; it maps the ways in which Twitter was used by the Ottawa-Carleton district school board, the Ottawa catholic school board, the Eastern Ontario French-language public school board, and ward and mayoral candidates for voter outreach; it also identifies what were then novel ways in which voters creatively used Twitter to participate independently in the electoral process and to attempt to influence its outcome. Finally, it discusses how traditional news organizations experimented with social media in covering elections and engaging with audiences and voters.
Does social-media usage (e.g. Twitter) influence candidates’ number of votes? Recent studies have shown that a modest impact might exist. However, these studies used data on elections in which only a limited group of politicians used Twitter. In such a context it was easy for a candidate to stand out. It remains to be seen whether the effect holds in times of widespread usage. This study compares a low-usage with a widespread-usage election, the Dutch 2010 and 2012 national elections respectively. It utilizes unique data on all 1024 candidates of the ‘large’ parties. Interestingly, even in the context of widespread Twitter usage we still find a positive association between Twitter use and preference votes.
This article examines the use of interactive features (i.e., discussion and participation features) on the Web sites of Dutch political parties during the 2010 local elections campaign and investigates whether a relationship exists between interactivity and election results. A manual content analysis of 2,135 party Web sites demonstrates that Web sites from national parties that compete in local elections are more interactive than those of independent local parties. Furthermore, for elections in larger municipalities, the parties’ Web sites use more interactivity. Most interesting, a positive association between interactivity and election results is established when controlling for previous elections and national trends.
The number of Web site visits, Facebook friends, or Twitter followers that politicians attract varies greatly, but little is known about what drives politicians' online popularity. In this article, we use data from a systematic tracking of congressional candidates' popularity on four Web platforms in the 112 most competitive congressional districts in the 2010 U.S. midterm elections to address that question. Using multivariate regression models, we show that while district-level socioeconomic characteristics have little effect on candidates' online popularity, challengers and candidates in open-seat races tend to attract larger audiences online, as do candidates who are more visible on political blogs. Surprisingly, how intensely candidates are covered in news media, how popular they are in opinion polls, and how much money they spend during the campaign show no significant effect. These findings help us understand the dynamics of Internet politics, and they have wider implications for candidate competition and party politics.
This article analyzes the use of the online environment within the context of the Polish parliamentary election of 2011. Using traditional methods of content analysis, we find that parties tend to adhere to a professionalized model of campaigning, and adapting online tools to suit the objectives of the campaign. There also appears to be a recognition that their most likely visitors to these online presences would be converts, and so they attempt to mobilize supporters rather than convert browsers. New parties and candidates are more likely to target browsers, with the latter offering a more personalized experience to online visitors. Importantly, when analyzing the outcome of the contest, we find that being online matters for candidates when controlling for all other variables. Equally, the reach the candidate has, which may well influence their vote share, is dependent on offering a more personalized, representational image and having a frequently updated online presence that should encourage repeat visits. Cumulatively, we suggest the future of online campaigning must not only focus on having a presence, but on using it in a way that appeals to a range of visitors, encouraging repeat visits, and that this strategy could have a positive impact on election outcomes.
Given the importance of issue competition in aWest European context and the growing use of Facebook in elections, this paper studies how politicians use Facebook to shape the campaign agenda.We analyze the issues addressed in 6,388 Facebook posts by candidates in the Danish 2011 parliamentary election. A limited share of Facebook updates is dedicated to issues. The Facebook agenda did not respond to standings in the polls, nor to the media agenda or public agenda. Comparing issue engagement of new candidates and rerunning candidates we find that the Facebook campaign agenda is not simply politics as usual.
This article analyzes Internet use in conjunction with the 2011 Finnish parliamentary election. The aim was to examine online participation and aspects of its mobilizing potential by studying both the extent and the ways citizens used the Internet for participatory activities. The analysis utilizes survey data from the Finnish National Election Study survey. The findings show that a certain group of citizens uses the Internet in a broad and expressive way. This use is also reflected in how they participate online and offline, as well as how they form the informational basis for their voting choices. Moreover, to some extent, use of the Internet also appears to indirectly mobilize citizens beyond the Internet.
In 2011-2012 Russia experienced a wave of mass protests surrounding the Duma and presidential elections. The protests, however, faded shortly after the second election. We study the Russian political discourse on Twitter during this period and the main actors involved: the pro-government camp, the opposition and the general public. We analyse around 700.000 Twitter messages and investigate the social networks of the most active Twitter users. Our analysis shows that pro-government users employed a variety of communication strategies to shift the political discourse and marginalise oppositional voices on Twitter. This demonstrates how authorities can disempower regime critics and successfully manipulate public opinion on social media.
This article examines the role of social media in contemporary political communication, focusing on Barack Obama’s Facebook campaign in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. Although there is a growing body of literature on online forms of participation, little research exists on the role of social buttons on Facebook (like, comment, and share) as tools of political voice. We use these native interactive features as indicators of how citizens engage with particular political messages. A content analysis of posts published on Obama’s official Facebook page over the two months leading up to Election Day was conducted, along with a detailed measurement of all user interactions for each post. Our analysis indicates that the Obama campaign used Facebook as a tool of top-down promotion, focusing on Obama’s personality and as a means of strategically guiding followers to act, rather than as a means of bottom-up empowerment or hybridized coproduction. However, we also found that followers engaged selectively with campaign messages and often interacted more with policy-oriented posts than with promotional ones.
This study explores how Presidential candidates compete for Twitter attention during a televised debate using two datasets of tweets posted during the first 2012 and 2016 U.S. Presidential debates. Using a time series analysis, we find that both debates exhibited zero-sum attention dynamics such that when one candidate gained attention, the other lost attention. However, our error correction models also revealed that the attention dynamics of Romney and Obama in 2012 produced an equilibrium that neither candidate could break from, whereas in 2016, Twitter attention to Trump overwhelmed Clinton. We therefore conclude that social media attention competition in during the 2012 U.S. presidential debate was more tightly contested compared to 2016.
Few studies have examined political content on YouTube, especially in comparison to the traditional television spots. Relying on both audience- and platform-based theories, we develop expectations of differences in content between political ads posted online and aired on television. We use content analysis to compare both online political ads and televised political ads from the 2012 presidential campaign, relying upon data from YouTube and the Wesleyan Media Project. We find that negative ads are more likely to be sponsored by groups than candidates on both television and YouTube. Online ads are less negative and less policy focused. By comparing ads made for TV uploaded to YouTube and those only on YouTube, we find that there is no difference in viewership between the two types, but online ads are more likely to be shared.
This study seeks to understand the efficacy of online political campaign communication. We do this by measuring the changes in online influence of political candidates by utilizing Klout, a new, publicly available measure incorporating a variety of behaviors online. We collected daily Klout data of nearly all major congressional and presidential campaigns during the 2012 election cycle and compare them to other traditional measures of online influence and campaign success. We conclude that Klout offers valuable advantages as a sophisticated research tool for evaluating real-time online influence of political campaigns, but caution researchers about some limitations in its use.
Utilizing network-based content analysis methodologies, this study examined 316,594 hyperlinks and 60,378 headlines culled from 20 elite, partisan political blogs through 10 months of the U.S. 2012 presidential year for evidence of partisan selective exposure in blog production practices. Hyperlinks reveal dense intra-interconnectivity among progressive blogs as opposed to conservative blogs. Elite, traditional media sources operated as bridges between spheres that otherwise tended to partisan selective exposure in their partisan source linking practices toward congenial media. Headline network text analysis revealed divergent issue and people agendas promoted between both partisan blog networks, providing very strong evidence for the operation of partisan selective exposure in the emergent content practices of these elite produser publics across the 2012 U.S. presidential year.
This paper provides an empirical assessment of the relationship between media exposure and leader effects on voting through an analysis of Italy –– an ideal case for the study of the personalization of politics and its connection with political communication. The results show the dominance of leader effects among voters strongly exposed to television and a somewhat differentiated impact on Internauts. By looking at leader effects across different audiences, this paper elaborates on the missing link between electoral research and political communication, and it eventually speaks to the broader question of how important is media for the outcome of contemporary democratic elections.
Political campaigns have been systematically using social media for strategic advantage. However, little is known about how competitiveness affects the ways candidates communicate online. Our study analyzes how race competitiveness as measured by polling performance influences candidates’ strategies on Twitter and Facebook. We analyze all social media messages of Republican and Democratic candidates in states that held gubernatorial elections in 2014 using supervised automated content analysis. We find that position in the polls and that race competitiveness are correlated with the ways candidates communicate on social media, and that candidates use Twitter and Facebook in different ways to communicate with the public.
This study addresses politician’s motives and use of social media platforms for campaigning purposes from a gender perspective. The role of gender is tested using survey data on Swedish candidates and behavioral data from Twitter before, during and after the 2014 European election. Our findings show gender-related patterns in how candidates assess the usefulness of social media as a campaign tool. Female candidates tend to value social media to a greater extent and evaluate social media use more positively than male candidates. We also find that the election campaign affects how male and female candidates interact with their followers.
Selective exposure to likeminded political viewpoints on algorithmic social media platforms is considered a potential source of polarization of public opinion. We still know little about the proposed mechanism or how potential reinforcement of specific attitudes affects citizens’ political behavior, especially in a nonelectoral context. Focusing on the issue of immigration during the refugee influx to Europe in autumn 2015, this study investigates the effects of social media usage on attitude reinforcement, connecting it to political participation in refugee-related activities. A panel study conducted among Danish citizens (n = 847) reveals that frequent social media usage reinforces existing attitudes and mobilizes political participation. However, citizens who become more extreme in their attitude toward immigration over time are found to be less likely to become politically active regarding this specific issue.
Using Gallup survey data and online news from 2015 to 2020, this study explored the degree to which audiences “meld” agendas from a wide array of news sources for the five most popular issues in the U.S.: the government and politicians, immigration, the economy, race relations, and healthcare. Overall, audiences of varying ideology had agendas that were congruent. Media agendas also appeared congruent, except on the issue of the economy. Conservative news media had a strong influence on audience issue salience. Horizontal (all partisan) and vertical (nonpartisan) media were in a virtual tie for influence among audiences. Despite an erosion in media trust, conservatives were receptive to issue salience from news media of all types, including liberal media. Liberals did not mirror elite media issue saliences, but were influenced by all other types of media, including conservative media. Moderates were influenced by the entire media landscape, to a somewhat even degree. Four out of the five issues studied here showed varying news media influence with no one media group nor ideology owning the agendas of an issue. The exception observed here was the issue of healthcare, which was influenced exclusively by liberal media for all three ideological groups.
Political actors are adapting their communication styles to the network media logic of social media platforms with varying success. This study investigates the communication styles used during the Swiss national election 2015 and their success in triggering digital reactions. In a quantitative content analysis of the “top 20” most reacted to messages on Facebook (n = 2170) and Twitter (N = 1796) of 246 Swiss parliamentarians and 11 parties we analyzed the impact of a pseudo-discursive, mobilizing, emotional and entertaining communication style. Whereas the pseudo-discursive style is the most common on both platforms, it leads on Facebook to fewer interactions. The entertaining style fosters reactions on Facebook but not on Twitter. Though the emotional style is used the least, it is the most beneficial. The paper concludes by discussing how these four communication styles alter communication between political actors and citizens.
An increasingly complex hybrid system of social- and traditional-news media surrounds Nordic election campaigns as politically experienced incumbents favour traditional news media, and younger, lesser-known candidates’ social media. Despite little evidence for hybrid-media politicians, politicians’ media use is changing rapidly; 15%–16% of Danish candidates used Twitter in 2011 but 68% in 2015. In this large-sample content analysis, party leaders have high traditional-news-media and low Twitter presence, and younger candidates visa-versa, but some politicians have high presence in both. Hybrid-media politicians are younger than the average Danish Parliament member, represent various parties, and likely come from the greater Copenhagen area.
This study examines the role of political cynicism in emotions, online campaign information seeking, and online political expression. Data from a two-wave online panel survey conducted before the 2016 U.S. presidential election reveal that cynicism is related positively to anger and anxiety and negatively to enthusiasm. Cynicism is also positively related to online campaign information seeking indirectly through anxiety. This indirect relationship is moderated by perceived exposure to insult campaigning, such that the relationship is stronger for those who thought they were often exposed to insulting campaign rhetoric. Data also show that cynicism is negatively associated with online political expression through reduced enthusiasm.
This study uses computational methods to investigate public incivility in Facebook comments to campaign messages during the primaries of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, focusing on candidates’ posts about immigration. Specifically, we investigate the relationship between campaign messaging strategies, such as advocacy and attacks, and the presence of incivility in public comments. We find that Trump dominated both in terms of number of posts and of public conversation and was the least likely to receive uncivil comments. Attack messages by the candidates were more likely to receive uncivil comments, suggesting that campaign negativity may indeed affect how the public engages with candidates online. These findings are important because uncivil discourse may contribute to further polarize the public around the issues, which may in turn lead to more extreme views.
This paper examines partisan communications of incumbent members of Congress during the nine weeks leading up to the 2016 U.S. election. The central premise is rooted in the median voter theorem, which is coupled with theories of political activation and reinforcement, to show how politicians communicate in order to attract support from large swaths of the public. We analyze the partisanship of tweets posted by incumbents in Congress using mixed-effects models to examine the relationships between party, time, and race competitiveness on the degree of partisanship expressed by politicians. Our results reveal that Democrats and Republicans exhibited different partisanship signaling patterns in the weeks before the election. Specifically, Democrats decreased their partisanship, perhaps to appeal to the median voter, while Republicans stayed consistent in their partisanship, potentially using Twitter to activate and reinforce voters rather than to win them over.
Political communication is the process of putting information, technology, and media in the service of power. Increasingly, political actors are automating such processes, through algorithms that obscure motives and authors yet reach immense networks of people through personal ties among friends and family. Not all political algorithms are used for manipulation and social control however. So what are the primary ways in which algorithmic political communication—organized by automated scripts on social media—may undermine elections in democracies? In the US context, what specific elements of communication policy or election law might regulate the behavior of such “bots,” or the political actors who employ them? First, we describe computational propaganda and define political bots as automated scripts designed to manipulate public opinion. Second, we illustrate how political bots have been used to manipulate public opinion and explain how algorithms are an important new domain of analysis for scholars of political communication. Finally, we demonstrate how political bots are likely to interfere with political communication in the United States by allowing surreptitious campaign coordination, illegally soliciting either contributions or votes, or violating rules on disclosure.
Given the sizable viewership of the U.S. presidential debates and the importance of moral sentiments in human behavior, this present investigation examined the relationship between moral framing in the U.S. presidential debates and the changes of moral words and self-transcendent emotions in tweets. For each presidential debate in 2016, we collected tweets on the day of the debate and the day after the debate. A total of 991,835 tweets were coded using the “bag-of-words” approach and supervised machine learning. The results showed that Clinton’s moral framing during the 2016 presidential debates was generally associated with harm/care and fairness in the tweets, whereas Trump’s moral framing was associated with ingroup loyalty and authority in the tweets. Interrupted time series analyses indicated that the effects of the debates on the moral words and self-transcendent emotions in the tweets were limited. Political candidates should aim to induce and then sustain moral sentiments in voters.