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Coproduction or cooptation? Real-time spin and social media response during the 2012 French and US presidential debates

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Major political events now unfold in a hybrid political information cycle: even as millions of citizens tune in to television broadcasts, many also comment - and receive others' comments - over social media. In previous research, we have described how biobehavioral cues spur Twitter discussion of candidates during American presidential debates. Here we extend that research to also account for other elements of the communication environment - in particular, messages from political and media elites reaching them via a 'second screen' such as mobile phone or tablet - and we apply our analyses to debates in both the United States and France. Specifically, we examine the relationship between the Twitter posts of 300 politicians, organizations and media figures from each country and the relevant messages of the larger Twitterverse during the debates. Our findings reveal commonalities in social media response in the two countries, particularly the powerful role of party figures and pundits in spurring social media posting. We also note differences between the social media cultures of the two countries, including the finding that French elites commanded relatively more attention (in the form of retweets) than their American counterparts. Implications for debate evaluations and online expression are discussed.
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ARTICLE TITLE: Coproduction or cooptation? Real-time spin and social media response during the 2012 French
and US presidential debates
ARTICLE AUTHOR: Wells, C., et al.
VOLUME: 14
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YEAR: 2016
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Original Article
Coproduction or cooptation? Real-time spin
and social media response during the 2012 French
and US presidential debates
Chris Wells
a,
*, Jack Van Thomme
b
, Peter Maurer
c
, Alex Hanna
d
,
Jon Pevehouse
b
, Dhavan V. Shah
a
and Erik Bucy
e
a
School of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 821 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706, USA.
E-mail: cfwells@wisc.edu
b
Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 110 North Hall 1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706, USA.
c
Institut für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft, Universität Wien, Universitätsring 1 1010
Wien, Austria.
d
Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 8128 Sewell Social Sciences Building 1180
Observatory Drive Madison, WI 53706, USA.
e
Department of Advertising, Texas Tech University, 211 Media and Communication Building Box 43082
Lubbock, TX 79409.
*Corresponding author.
Abstract Major political events now unfold in a hybrid political information cycle:
even as millions of citizens tune in to television broadcasts, many also comment and
receive otherscomments over social media. In previous research, we have described
how biobehavioral cues spur Twitter discussion of candidates during American pre-
sidential debates. Here we extend that research to also account for other elements of the
communication environment in particular, messages from political and media elites
reaching them via a second screensuch as mobile phone or tablet and we apply our
analyses to debates in both the United States and France. Specically, we examine the
relationship between the Twitter posts of 300 politicians, organizations and media gures
from each country and the relevant messages of the larger Twitterverse during the debates.
Our ndings reveal commonalities in social media response in the two countries, parti-
cularly the powerful role of party gures and pundits in spurring social media posting.
We also note differences between the social media cultures of the two countries, including
the nding that French elites commanded relatively more attention (in the form of
retweets) than their American counterparts. Implications for debate evaluations and online
expression are discussed.
French Politics (2016) 14, 206233. doi:10.1057/fp.2016.4
Keywords: social media; Twitter; debate; second screen
© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
www.palgrave-journals.com/fp/
Introduction
Presidential elections are nearly unparalleled in their capacity to focus citizen atten-
tion, and in the course of elections, debates rank second only to Election Day in terms
of real-time expression on social media (Sharp, 2012a, b). They are unique moments
in which candidates present themselves before their nation, and members of the
public react to, discuss and evaluate the performances. And despite the fragmentation
of media systems and audiences of developed democracies such as France and the
United States (Prior, 2007), debates continue to command the attention of large
portion of the citizenry as they have for decades (Stelter, 2012).
What is unprecedented, however, is the complexity of the media environment that
now surrounds debates and confronts the campaigns, journalists and spectators who
take part. In 1984, when the spin room, the post-debate gathering in which each
campaign tried to sell reporters on their candidatesperformance, was rst identied,
campaigns could work through a dened set of news entities during a day-long news
cycle to convey messages to the public (Calderone, 2012). Today, that news cycle
has given way to a real-time political information cycle, as myriad campaign
operatives, journalists, pundits, bloggers, celebrities and citizens weigh in immedi-
ately on events (Chadwick, 2013; Vaccari et al, 2015).
This is not a wholesale displacement of broadcast media in favor of digital:
individuals continue to respond strongly to images that reach them via television
(Shah et al, 2015). Today viewers respond to the rst screenof television with
one or more second screens: the laptops, tablets and smartphones that connect
them to friends and other networks through messaging, E-mail and social media
(Anstead and OLoughlin, 2011; Giglietto and Selva, 2014, Freelon and Karpf,
2015).
We build on previous work showing that candidatesperformances in televised
debates (especially their biobehavioral cuessuch as facial expressions and gestures)
have a discernable impact on contemporaneous Twitter posting about the candidates
(Shah et al, 2015). In this study, we wish to recognize that many citizens are
receiving messages from (at least) two screens when watching debates (McKinney
et al, 2014), and that political and media actors are themselves working feverishly to
take advantage of that divided attention to shape the publics interpretation of debates
as they occur, not just afterwards (Kreiss, 2014). The place- and time-bound spin
rooms of broadcast media still exist, but now also have digital manifestations that
need not wait for debates end: commentators, spinners, pundits and others comment
on debates in real time via social media like Twitter. We know this is occurring,
but we know little about how this elite discourse impacts larger social media discus-
sions surrounding the debate (though see Trilling, 2015). To account for this feature
of the contemporary media event, in this study we measure when political and media
elites enter the Twitter discussion about a debate, and assess what consequences it
has for aggregate Twitter response.
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The essay proceeds as follows. We rst situate presidential debates in the class of
media eventsoriginally theorized during the height of the broadcast media system
by Dayan and Katz (1992), but note that the form and implications of such events are
undergoing change along without media system (Chadwick, 2010; Freelon and
Karpf, 2015). This gives debates an intriguing dual quality of being both highly
produced and polished broadcast spectacles and the sites of real-time discussion,
debate and contestation of meaning in social media. We highlight questions of
how interactions between journalists, campaigns and citizens commenting via social
media shape that contestation.
To examine these questions empirically, we draw on Twitter data collected
during the 2012 presidential debates in both the United States and France. These
allow us to assess the contributions of various actors to the response from the
larger Twitter public’–the general viewers who choose to comment on Twitter
during the debates. Further, comparing Twitter responses to debates in two
countries allows for the examination of our questions in contexts with obvious
similarities but also substantial differences of politics, media system and social
media use.
The Debate as Media Event
In the United States and France, debates are institutionalized rituals of every pre-
sidential election. Debates are carried, without advertisements, by leading television
networks and the cable channels primarily dedicated to news. In 2012, the rst
American debate drew a television audience of over 70 million viewers, just shy
of the record of over 80 million in 1980 (Stelter, 2012). In France, since the
liberalization of the television market in the mid-1980s, the biggest commercial
station, formerly public broadcaster TF1, has aired the debates. Debates regularly
reach over 20 million viewers, with that of 2012 garnering an audience share of over
60 per cent (Bailly, 2012).
As such, debates loom among the largest of the class of communication moments
known as media events(Dayan and Katz, 1992). Dayan and Katz conceptualize
media events as being ritualized (placed in a conventionally prescribed and ordered
form), highly staged (by journalistic media and campaign strategists), of high
strategic stakes, and social (for millions of citizen observers, who may watch as
members of a group or at the least expect to encounter conversations about the event
in the future).
In the social media age, these general features of media events persist, partly
because audiences for broadcast coverage of them continue to tune in, as noted
above. But as the broadcast media with which the modern debate format emerged
indeed, co-evolved is now accompanied by the panoply of media forms enabled by
the Internet, the features and roles identied by Dayan and Katz are taking on new
Wells et al
208 © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
forms (Anstead and OLoughlin, 2011; Jungherr, 2014; Vaccari et al, 2015). We now
witness hybrid media events,whichwedene as events in which there is convergence
and real-time interaction of: (i) the coverage ofbroadcast and journalistic media; (ii) the
strategic messaging and spin of interested actors (that is, campaigns and parties); and
(iii) the commentary and debate of citizens using various social platforms. While
recognizing the blurringof these analytic distinctions in post-Web 2.0 campaigning
(Lilleker and Jackson, 2013, p. 150), we nonetheless seek to observe and account for
how these interactions play out in todays hybrid media events.
For theoretical underpinnings of hybrid media events, we build on three features of the
media environment surrounding them: the disintermediation of political communications
in the sense that strategic actors who formally relied on news media to reach all but a tiny
activated minority now communicate alongside those news media; the disappearance of
the temporal boundaries of the news cycle, or political communication in real time;and
the social media commentary that now forms a vibrant component of that political
communication.
Disintermediation
The relationship between the two key producers of political communications, and
debates especially political campaigns and news media has been fundamentally
altered. Partly because news organizations formally host them, debates have long
been opportunities for journalists to showcase their own credentials and perform their
responsibilities as the publics voice: asking the candidatesquestions, trying to
navigate the spin rooms and assiduously fact-checking campaignsstatements. But
hypermedianow enable politicians and campaigns to reach publics directly,
without the mediation of journalists (Lilleker and Jackson, 2010).
For political campaigns, debates have always been fraught moments of loss of
message control. Before hypermedia, campaigns responded to this situation with the
development of spin room: after whatever happened in the candidatesbrief
unscripted performance, handlers gathered to meet journalists and reframe, or spin
the story, as debate coverage was likely to dominate news coverage for the next
several days (Calderone, 2012). French campaigns have their somewhat comparable
war room(quartier générale) located apart from party headquarters. There,
politicians close to the candidates and other strategic advisers work to shape the
media agenda, to reply to the opposing campaign and to spin the story on behalf of
their candidate.
With the development of the hypermedia campaign (Howard, 2006), the meaning
and signicance of debate moments shift subtly. On the one hand, the ever-greater
ubiquity of nely targeted and crafted advertising and careful press management
during the rest of the (especially extended American) campaign brings the rarity of
unltered candidate performance into ever sharper relief. Perhaps this accounts for
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the sustained large audiences for broadcast debates well into the social media era.
On the other hand, hypermedia makes it possible for campaigns and other com-
munication actors to intervene in the midst of a debate to digitally interrupt the
candidates in a way that was not possible before.
The development of these practices constitutes a sort of real-time spin carried out
via social media. As Kreiss (2014) details, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obamas
campaigns in 2012 took great pains to prepare sophisticated social media strategies
for moments when they knew the publics (and journalists) attention would be on
them above all during debates (see Elmer, 2013 for comparable ndings in
Canada). This practice is empirically justied by the fact that social media activity
and therefore attention follows the live coverage of political events in broadcast
media, and falls quickly with its end (Hanna et al, 2013; Jungherr, 2014).
Political Communication in Real Time
The development of rst 24-hour news networks, and online and social media
thereafter, has also disrupted the temporal features of the broadcast communication
system. What was once a news cycledened by the routines of news organizations
is now a political information cyclelacking clear beginning and end points in which
a host of actors, including average citizens on Twitter, participate (Chadwick, 2013).
This has changed the nature of communication work for journalists and campaigns
alike, as they work feverishly to stay on top of emerging stories and narratives.
The logical extension of the political information cycle is that much political
communication now happens not in a cycle at all which itself implies recurring, and
therefore nite, stages but in real time. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the
growth of audience practices of second screeningor dual screening: viewing
multiple sources of information about a topic often a broadcast source such as
television in combination with a social media source such as Twitter (Gil de Zúñiga
et al, 2015; Shah et al, 2015; Vaccari et al, 2015). The simultaneity of such practices
encapsulates the timeless timeof information production, reception and response in
the network society (Castells, 1996).
These realities have political campaigns acutely aware of the need to seize even
relatively small opportunities to communicate their message: Campaigns have gone
from attempting to win the entire professional journalism news cycle, dened in
terms of a 24-hour increment, to focusing on 2 hours on a single social media
platform(Kreiss, 2014, p. 10). New practices for campaigns include developing
messaging in advance that could be used during the debate, and responding in real
time to debate developments. Interestingly, campaigns understand their primary
audience for real-time social messaging to be the general public only secondarily,
with higher priority placed on mobilizing already-engaged supporters and journalists,
out of the perception that journalists relied on Twitter to gauge public response to the
Wells et al
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debate (cf. Lilleker and Jackson, 2013; Kreiss, 2014). This perception is borne out by
research on journalistsuses of social media as a proxy of opinion and for story ideas
(Chadwick, 2010; Broersma and Graham, 2012; Mercier and Pignard-Cheynel, 2012).
Social Commentary and Online Expression
A third, unmistakable feature of digital political communications is that the audience
now talks back. Dayan and Katz (1992) accurately discerned that media events
have a multifaceted social component: the same factors that drive so many people to
tune in to a given media event also lead them to interact with one another, to gather
together, to experience, debate and interpret what happens on the screen: and it is
clear that citizens do gather physically and virtually to discuss, joke, mock, drink
and generally connect over the spectacle (CNN, 2012).
The advent of social media has extended the social nature of these events, allowing
the network of connections and the reach of expressions previously conned
to private social spaces to expand considerably (McKinney et al, 2014). Twitter
mentions of the major candidates parallels the television viewing audience in spiking
sharply upward during debate broadcasts (Hanna et al, 2013), demonstrating the
wide use of the second screento share ideas about events occurring on the rst
(Giglietto and Selva, 2014; Jungherr, 2014). Clearly, citizens are using the new
media to say something about the moment of widely shared media experience.
Though demonstrating clear engagement with civic life, this is not to say that
the aspects of the performances to which citizens pay the most attention would please
every deliberative democratic theorists. In a previous study (Shah et al, 2015),
we analyzed the rst American debate of 2012 on a shot-by-shot basis, mapping the
verbal, tonal and visual performances of the candidates to Twitter activity mentioning
either participant. What we found was that Twitter users clearly did respond to
specic moments of the debate: but identiable responses to candidatespolicy
arguments were weak and sparse. What largely spurred people to post to Twitter, and
shaped the valence of these posts, were much more elemental, biobehavioralcues
candidatesfacial expressions and physical gestures, as well as quotable meme
moments. When such moments occurred, Twitter users chose to use Twitter to
communicate their response to someone.
Exactly who that someone was is beyond the scope of this essay; but the preceding
discussion does highlight the multiple valences of communication in a medium that
is simultaneously private and public (Papacharissi, 2010). Posting about a debate on
Twitter certainly may be an extension of the social space that Dayan and Katz (1992)
recognized as a component of media events: people engage in social media activity to
be connected to their social network to share ideas with and receive input from
others in their social circle. Alternatively or simultaneously it may also be an
entry into the domain of the media discourse that is the source of the event itself.
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In this sense, commenters are using their media capacity to enter the realm normally
controlled by communication elites: their comments become part of a larger
conversation, which itself can be aggregated and called upon by journalists and
media organizations to make sense of public reaction.
In the latter sense, commenters are engaging in the contestation of political
meaning and advantage through communicative means what some have termed
media politics,communication power(Castells, 2009) and the third age of
political communication(Blumler and Kavanagh, 1999). However, whereas once
television was the coproducerof politics (Gurevitch et al, 2009), today social media
potentially shares that role a reality not lost on political strategists who now
understand social media as an essential arena for the contestation of political meaning
(Conway et al, 2015; Lilleker et al, 2015). The critical question is to what degree this
new media constellation is changing the set of actors empowered to dene that
meaning, and how the process plays out.
Presidential Debates in France and the United States
Below, we examine how these dynamics unfolded in presidential debates of 2012 in
two national contexts: France and the United States. In France, on 2 May, President
Nicolas Sarkozy faced off against Francois Hollande in a nearly 3-hour debate; in the
United States, on 3 October, sitting President Barack Obama debated Mitt Romney
for 90 min. These events offer us the opportunity to test some of the propositions
being offered here, and to do so in a cross-national comparative way. Though
contemporary research on social media and politics is undoubtedly international,
cases of genuinely comparative work remain rare (though see, for example, Lilleker
and Jackson, 2013; Vaccari, 2013).
The political cultures of France and the United States prove themselves quite
amenable to comparison. The countries have two of the most powerful presidencies
in the democratic, developed world, a feature associated with institutionalized
debates between competing individuals (in contrast, it was only in 2010 that the
United Kingdom saw pre-election debates between its top candidates for Prime
Minister; Cockerell, 2010). They also have highly developed media systems, high
Internet penetration and relatively high use of Twitter.
In addition to their similarities, differences between the French and American
systems offer opportunities for contrast in the uses and consequences of second
screen responses to televised debates. Among the most important is the strong
polarization around sitting President Sarkozy, which developed during his term of
ofce. The French electorate was divided between Sarkozy supporters and people
who hated him. The strong personalization exacerbated the already deep left-right
cleavage around which French politics revolves, and the already deeply institutiona-
lized role of parties and partisanship in that country. In all, the relatively high levels
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of overt party afliation, combined with the open afliation of some news
organizations, may lead citizens in France to follow political allies in social media.
By contrast, the United States features weaker party loyalty, an almost obsessive
journalistic tradition of neutrality, and a norm of informed citizenshipby which
citizens are called upon to render impartial judgments of politics (Schudson, 1998),
including candidatesdebate performances. This may lead the press to play a larger
role in attracting public attention during debates.
Hypotheses and Research Questions
Our notions of the changing nature of debates as media events, our understandings of
the French and American contexts for political communication and prior research
lead us to several hypotheses and research questions. We rst propose that we will
indeed see a role played by elite actors in shaping public response to the debate on
Twitter beyond the memes generated by candidates and the visual aspects of
candidatesexpressions and gestures. Accordingly:
Hypothesis 1: The tweeting activity of key political and media elites will explain
differences in the volume of online expression directed at each
candidate above and beyond what is accounted for by the memes
generated by candidates and the visual aspects of candidates
expressions and gestures.
Precisely which elites will play the largest role, and whether the set of elites
driving discussion will differ in the two countries, is slightly less clear. We have
noted the relatively great importance of party afliation in France; but our earlier
discussion also described the disintermediation of political communications from
journalists, which may lead partisan elites to play a similarly important role in the
United States. As a result, we pose two research questions:
Research Question 1a: Which political and media elites explain differences in the
volume of online expression during the rst presidential
debate in the US?
Research Question 1b: Which political and media elites explain differences in the
volume of online expression during the only second round
debate in France?
Considering the most reproduced Twitter messages during and after media events
Another approach to considering actions of Twitter users and resulting dynamics is to
examine which actorsmessages are most reproduced by others in terms of those that
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were most often retweeted. This is the technique used by Freelon and Karpf (2015)
to consider specic moments of debates. They conclude that the second screen
phenomenon is opening the doors of discourse to many non-elites, and to many elites
outside the political sphere since activity by those commentators sometimes became
very prominent via retweets.
Our analysis of the American and French debates in their entirety is a warranted
extension for two reasons. First, it would be reasonable to presume that the highly
meme-iedmoments created by Big Birdand horses and bayonetsmight be
precisely the type most prone to attracting activity and attention from users looking
not for substantive, authoritative commentary, but clever quips and humor. Sampling
on these cases may thus provide a biased impression of the overall structure of
attention during debates. Second, our addition of a second national case allows us to
examine the extent to which such a phenomenon of popularization of political
discourse, if it exists, is limited to the United States or is a broader phenomenon of
online culture.
The critical question, therefore, is to what extent the most reproduced messages are
indeed of those elites who already have wide reach with their messages through other
media, or whether another set of actors, perhaps those termed bridging elitesby
Freelon and Karpf (2015) also attract substantial reproduction. Thus:
Research Question 2: What sorts of Twitter accounts will be most retweeted
during and after the debates? And how will the two
national contexts differ in the set of most retweeted
accounts?
Method
Twitter data collection and analysis
We archived the Twitter gardenhose as a sample of social media activity through its
Streaming API. Twitter describes the gardenhose as a continuous 10 per cent sample
of the 300500 million tweets per day globally.
1
Though the gardenhose is only a
sample of Twitter, and not a completely random one, methodological examination
using only a 1 per cent gardenhose stream suggests that it is valid for purposes such
as the ones employed here (Morstatter et al, 2013).
From this archive, we drew tweets mentioning the surname of either candidate
Obama and Romney in the US case, Sarkozy and Hollande in the French with
timestamps indicating they were posted during the relevant debate (or within the
following 2 hours, for analyses of most-retweeted handles). We then generated
volume measures for mentions of each candidate within the text of tweets.
Volume measures were broken into small time increments (most were 30 seconds;
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see Shah et al, 2015) to enable time-series modeling. These became our criterion
variables (Tables 3 and 4).
Sampling and categorization of elite Twitter users
To examine Hypothesis 1, we created two lists of individuals active on Twitter who
are elitesby virtue of their established following or position within the political or
media system: one for the United States and one for France. We began by crafting
hand-picked lists of 250 of the most inuential and well-known handles, guided by a
framework of ve categories of elites important to political conversations in both
countries: Advocacy groupsinclude non-party, political civil society organizations
such as the AFLCIO in the United States and SOS Racisme in France. Celebrities
are celebrities known for something other than politics who nonetheless comment
on politics. Mediaare major media organizations such as CNN or LeMonde and
mainstream journalists. Punditsare opinion journalists, including overtly partisan
journalists, well-known bloggers and satirists. Partyhandles include accounts
belonging to the candidates, campaigns, parties and party leaders. We oversampled
the latter three categories to account for their outsized role in shaping political
communications.
Then, to ensure we did not miss accounts of great importance, we used our corpus
of Twitter posts mentioning the candidates to identify accounts with high number of
followers that tweeted at least three times during the debates, and checked this list for
elites that did not appear on our initial list. From this set, we drew an additional 50 for
each country, resulting in 300 elites for each country (see Appendix Tables A1 and
B1 for complete lists of handles and categorization).
Finally, because of the relative sparseness of tweets from the 300 elites within each
country (see Tables 1 and 2), for each of the time intervals noted above we generated
volume counts of retweets of the 300 elites. (We removed any such retweets that
mentioned a candidate from our dependent variables to avoid confounding them.)
These became our key independent variables.
Time-series regression modeling
To describe the effects of elitesposting (in the form of retweets of those elites)
on aggregate Twitter behavior, we estimate time-series regression models. Durbin
Watson tests on each of our dependent variables reveal signicant autocorrelation.
To account for this temporal dependence, we use generalized least squares
(PraisWinsten) regression to estimate our models. These models adjust the
variance-covariance matrix to account for a rst-order autoregressive process in the
error term of the model. We calculate the adjustment (ρ) using the single-lag OLS
estimate of the residuals from the original estimating equation.
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Finally, because we are building on previous work relating Twitter activity to
televised political events, and to avoid spurious results, we enter into our models the
rst screen variable blocks that F-tests indicated provided explanatory power, though
we do not discuss their results in depth here (for details about the creation and results
of these measures in the American case, see Shah et al, forthcoming).
Twitter posting as a window onto political communication processes
The use of Twitter as an indicator of public responseto political communications
must address the question of who is represented in the data. First, the Twitter use is
relatively widespread, though by no means ubiquitous, in both France and the United
States. In 2012, France had Internet penetration over 80 and 12 per cent of the
population over 15 years using Twitter; in the United States, 80 per cent of adults
used the Internet, and 16 per cent of those used Twitter (IFOP, 2012; Duggan and
Brenner, 2013). Interestingly, however, whereas in France Twitter use is associated
with education, young people and white-collar employment (IFOP, 2012), in the
United States the service is more distributed across (younger) demographics, with
notably high use by African Americans and residents of urban communities (Duggan
and Brenner, 2013). Moreover, it has been shown that during high points of politics a
relatively large set of users engage in political tweeting, not only political junkies
(Boyadjian, 2014).
Twitter also has special characteristics that add to its interest as a research domain.
We have already noted its high standing among elites such as journalists and
strategists; beyond those users, Twitter is also populated by a vital middleof users
more active and attuned to politics but not themselves celebrities (Vaccari and
Valenturi, 2013). We should be mindful of the likelihood that these individualsposts
make up a signicant portion of our measure of response during the debates, but with
the awareness that these are opinion leaders positioned between newsmakers and the
general public (Lazarsfeld et al, 1948). Their reactions thus have signicance of their
own if we consider that they shape othersunderstandings of the debate. How that
inuence may be relayed beyond Twitter space is beyond the scope of this article, but
an important question for further research: Does it occur within other social media
such as Facebook? Does it move into interpersonal interactions?
Results
Describing the Twitter activity of elites and other users
Tables 1 and 2 describe the contours of our sample in terms of how each category of
users engaged in Twitter behavior during the debate and during the 2-hour period
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immediately following it the traditional spin-roomperiod. Differences in numbers
of tweets between the debate and the post-debate period make clear that the overall
level of activity falls rapidly after the end of the debates. We might expect the general
audience (all others) not to pay a lot of attention once the debate is over. But the trend is
the same for every category of elite users as well, suggesting that the elites are devoting
their energies to tweeting during the course of the debate, and that there is not much of
a post-debate digital spin room. It is especially notable that journalists and pundits, who
presumably are busily talking about the debate on the air, are not promoting their work
there during this time and that party operatives are not busy trying to shape that
discussion. The dedicated allocation of energy to the debate itself reects our earlier
discussion of the sense among elite tweeters that it is during the debate, with a mass
audience tuned in, that perceptions are importantly shaped. (We should also note the
surprising nding that, in France, the handles of both advocacy groups and celebrities
were completely silent during the debate and the after-period.)
Table 2: Twitter activity of elite and other handles in France, during and after the presidential debate
of 2012
Handles in
sample
Number of
tweets
Percentage
containing @
Percentage of
retweets
Percentage
containing
links
Percentage of
hashtags
During After During
(%)
After
(%)
During
(%)
After
(%)
During
(%)
After
(%)
During
(%)
After
(%)
Advocacy groups 25 0 0 ——---————
Celebrities 11 0 0 ————————
Media 114 99 52 3.0 7.7 13.1 17.3 32.3 40.4 74.1 73.1
Party 88 49 17 8.2 11.8 22.4 35.3 12.2 5.9 93.9 94.1
Pundit 62 43 18 9.3 16.7 20.9 11.1 7.0 16.7 74.4 77.8
All others 61 875 22 977 6.5 8.2 49.6 52.9 8.1 12.1 70.4 65.3
Table 1: Twitter activity of elite and other handles in the United States, during and after the rst
presidential debate of 2012
Handles in
sample
Number of
tweets
Percentage
containing @
Percentage of
retweets
Percentage
containing
links
Percentage of
hashtags
During After During
(%)
After
(%)
During
(%)
After
(%)
During
(%)
After
(%)
During
(%)
After
(%)
Advocacy groups 48 58 13 1.7 23.1 34.5 38.5 31.0 38.5 51.7 84.6
Celebrities 5 1 0 100.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 100.0 0.0
Media 97 85 21 3.5 9.5 29.4 33.3 34.1 71.4 49.4 33.3
Party 67 21 3 4.8 0.0 23.8 0.0 9.5 33.3 19.0 33.3
Pundits 83 90 44 5.6 22.7 31.1 13.6 15.6 45.5 30.0 27.3
All others 797 267 113 883 2.7 5.8 51.0 61.3 4.3 13.5 31.6 32.0
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217© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
We also see, in line with studies of other debates (Anstead and OLoughlin, 2011;
Jungherr, 2014; Lin et al, 2014), that the type of activity changes between the debate
period and the after-period. In particular, the sorts of Twitter activities that would suggest
users are allocating their attention to objects outside the television broadcast (by using
links or @-mentions) are notably low during the debate, and rise afterwards.
Furthermore, in both countries most categories of users engage in slightly more
retweeting in the afterperiod, perhaps indicating that with the debate over they are
looking more at Twitter to see how others responded. The notable exception is pundits in
both countries, who engaged is substantially more retweeting during the debate than
after; it may be that this set of users was more actively following Twitter during the
debate, and afterwards turned to crafting their own messages. And while party handles in
France followed the general trend of retweeting more often in the post-debate period, we
did not pick up a single instance of a party handle in the United States posting a retweet
in the after-period.
Spurring Twitter activity
Tables 3 and 4 examine the impact of this elite activity on overall volume of Twitter
comments about the debate. Each table presents two separate regressions, with the
dependent variables being the count of tweets mentioning a given candidate during
each time interval during the debate; counts were normalized relative to the number of
seconds in the time interval. Table 3 takes upthe American case, exploring mentions of
Obama and Romney; Table 4 concerns the French, analyzing mentions of Hollande
and Sarkozy. In each case, elements from within the debate itself (that is, the generation
of memes and the visual features) are entered as controls in Model 1 (see Shah et al,
2015 for details). Our variables of interest are added in Model 2, and consist of elite
actorsactivity in the Twitter discussion, as measured by retweets of their messages.
There is remarkable consistency across all four models. In every case, the addition
of our key independent variables makes a signicant and substantial contribution to
the model t. In every case F-test scores are signicant, and the changes in R
2
are
large: in the French case they double (Sarkozy) or nearly so (Hollande). In the
American case they rise from already respectable levels still higher. It is thus clear
that elitesbehavior on social media is making a discernable impact on the amount of
public tweeting about the candidates during the debates, conrming Hypothesis 1.
And it is not the case that elites are simply responding to the same stimuli as members
of the public at large: the F-test scores of the control block of variable hardly change
with the introduction of our elite activity measures, and total R
2
rise, indicating that
the effects are not explained by mediation.
Moreover, the particular effects described by the models are very similar.
Every model shows the Twitter activity of party-related handles to be signicantly
associated with mentions of candidates in the debates. And in every case except the
Wells et al
218 © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
Table 3: Generalized least squares (PraisWinsten) regressions predicting normalized volume of
mentions of Obama and Romney during the rst American debate
Variables (1)Obama (2)Obama (1)Romney (2)Romney
Obama Meme 37.07*** 35.51*** 2.882 1.204
(4.445) (4.374) (5.659) (5.679)
Romney Meme 7.832** 3.780 16.70*** 12.44***
(3.057) (3.027) (3.892) (3.931)
Obama Tone-Angry/Threat 0.286 0.0483 2.818** 2.546**
(0.942) (0.910) (1.199) (1.182)
Obama Tone-Happy/Reassuring 0.0890 0.550 2.642** 2.106*
(0.952) (0.916) (1.212) (1.190)
Romney Tone-Angry/Threat 0.746 0.831 1.952 2.030
(1.132) (1.079) (1.441) (1.401)
Romney Tone-Happy/Reassuring 1.555 1.147 0.517 0.114
(1.163) (1.115) (1.481) (1.448)
Obama Facial-Angry/Threat 1.408* 0.871 1.777* 1.209
(0.827) (0.802) (1.053) (1.041)
Obama Afnity Gesture 1.857 1.737 0.655 0.419
(1.724) (1.656) (2.195) (2.152)
Obama Deance Gesture 0.609 0.869 0.742 1.035
(1.051) (1.024) (1.338) (1.330)
Romney Facial-Angry/Threat 2.043 1.686 0.262 0.0917
(1.431) (1.365) (1.823) (1.774)
Romney Afnity Gesture 1.256 0.962 2.002 1.687
(1.074) (1.026) (1.367) (1.333)
Romney Deance Gesture 0.705 0.576 0.910 0.961
(1.162) (1.115) (1.479) (1.448)
Retweets: Advocacy Group 0.00655 0.0525
(0.101) (0.131)
Retweets: Celebrities 0.150 0.146
(0.516) (0.670)
Retweets: Media 0.0693 0.0693
(0.0483) (0.0627)
Retweets: Party 0.111*** 0.129**
(0.0402) (0.0523)
Retweets: Pundit 0.0956*** 0.0963**
(0.0329) (0.0428)
Constant 52.69*** 47.17*** 44.77 38.55
(14.83) (11.31) (28.21) (24.08)
F-test: Controls 7.82*** 6.78*** 3.00*** 1.88**
F-test: Retweets 4.73*** 3.13**
LR test 24.00*** 16.53***
Observations 169 169 169 169
R
2
0.371 0.452 0.181 0.256
*P<0.1, **P<0.05, ***P<0.01.
Note: Standard errors in parentheses.
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Table 4: Generalized least squares (PraisWinsten) regressions predicting normalized volume of
mentions of Hollande and Sarkozy during the French debate
Variables (1)Hollande
volume
(2)Hollande
volume
(1)Sarkozy
volume
(2)Sarkozy
volume
Hollande Tone-Angry/Threat 0.164* 0.163* 0.0236 0.0173
(0.0916) (0.0904) (0.0724) (0.0700)
Hollande Tone-Happy/Reassuring 0.0161 0.102 0.636** 0.490*
(0.349) (0.345) (0.269) (0.263)
Sarkozy Tone-Angry/Threat 0.162* 0.165* 0.175** 0.166**
(0.0891) (0.0882) (0.0700) (0.0681)
Sarkozy Tone-Happy/Reassuring 0.195 0.155 0.0829 0.115
(0.146) (0.145) (0.117) (0.113)
Hollande Facial-Angry/Threat 0.151 0.122 0.0359 0.0575
(0.0953) (0.0943) (0.0754) (0.0731)
Hollande Facial-Happy/Reassuring 0.0838 0.0640 0.402** 0.370**
(0.226) (0.224) (0.181) (0.175)
Hollande Afnity Gesture 0.0145 0.00689 0.00847 0.0148
(0.104) (0.102) (0.0827) (0.0799)
Hollande Deance Gesture 0.0246 0.0352 0.0729 0.0859
(0.0698) (0.0697) (0.0557) (0.0544)
Sarkozy Facial-Angry/Threat 0.0939 0.0764 0.00770 0.0101
(0.0926) (0.0928) (0.0734) (0.0721)
Sarkozy Facial-Happy/Reassuring 0.279*** 0.280*** 0.114 0.119
(0.0979) (0.0971) (0.0782) (0.0759)
Sarkozy Afnity Gesture 0.104 0.125 0.154** 0.176**
(0.0982) (0.0973) (0.0777) (0.0755)
Sarkozy Deance Gesture 0.132* 0.139* 0.102* 0.110*
(0.0748) (0.0738) (0.0594) (0.0575)
Hollande Meme 0.301 0.0969 0.261 0.112
(0.353) (0.354) (0.283) (0.277)
Sarkozy Meme 0.0809 0.178 0.128 0.0382
(0.210) (0.211) (0.167) (0.165)
Retweets: Celebrities 0.185 0.226**
(0.113) (0.0883)
Retweets: Media 0.00907 0.0153
(0.0135) (0.0104)
Retweets: Party 0.0210*** 0.0159***
(0.00624) (0.00484)
Retweets: Pundit 0.0149 0.0217**
(0.0118) (0.00908)
Constant 3.682*** 3.311*** 2.761*** 2.419***
(0.162) (0.187) (0.104) (0.128)
F-test: Controls 1.50 1.47 1.74** 1.77**
F-test: Retweets 3.88*** 6.11***
LR Test 16.01*** 24.98***
Observations 337 337 337 337
R
2
0.065 0.108 0.056 0.124
*P<0.1, **P<0.05, ***P<0.01.
Note: Standard errors in parentheses.
Wells et al
220 © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
model predicting mentions of Hollande, punditsactivity makes a signicant contribution.
Equally important, in no case does the activity of journalistic (media) handles
signicantly impact candidate mentions, nor does the activity of advocacy handles
(note that no advocacy group tweeted, or were retweeted, during the French debate,
and thus do not appear in Table 4). The one signicant effect concerning celebrities
occurs in the model predicting mentions of Sarkozy; there, the direction is negative,
suggesting that retweets of celebrities were associated with falling mentions of
Sarkozy, perhaps because attention was being drawn away from the debate. (Though
no French celebrity tweeted during the debate, we did identify a handful of retweets
of their previous messages.)
2
Attracting retweets
To investigate Research Question 2, we calculated the number of times the posts of
every handle that appeared in our data set were retweeted, and identied the 50 most-
retweeted individuals for each debate; we then classied the highly retweeted
individuals according to what sort of user they are. To do this, we rst used our
existing classication scheme to classify highly tweeted users who were on our
original lists. We then sorted the other handles into one of those categories and
combined some categories for parsimony. This yielded classications of political
gures (including candidates and parties), media gures (journalists and pundits),
celebrities and citizens with no discernable claim to fame. In the process, following
Freelon and Karpf (2015), we found it necessary to add two additional categories:
digital personalities who have become famous for their work or media in an entirely
online setting (for example, YouTube phenom Tyler Oakley) and accounts operated
as parody accounts (for instance, after Romney proposed cutting funding to PBS,
several accounts in the person of Big Bird appeared), fan accounts or accounts simply
trying to attract followers.
Table 5: Categorization of 50 most-retweeted handles during and after-periods of US and French debates
US France
During (%) After (%) During (%) After (%)
Political 16 14 36 38
Media 42 34 38 34
Celebrity 10 8 16 8
Digital personality 6446
Citizen 4622
Joke/parody/follow 16 28 4 6
Suspended/unknown 6606
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Table 5 breaks down the set of 50 most-retweeted handles (accounts), during and
after each debate. In France, the pattern is unmistakable: political and media elites
dominate the set of most-retweeted accounts, combining to together make up
76 per cent of those during the debate, and 72 per cent in the after-period. Celebrities
make up another 16 and 8 per cent; handles that could be considered non-elite in any
sense make up only a small portion.
The story in the United States is more interesting. First, political elites make up a
smaller (though still sizable) portion of the most-retweeted: only 16 per cent during
the debate and 14 per cent after. Media gures play an even stronger role. Celebrities,
digital personalities and average citizens are sparsely represented, but what is notable
is the set of joke/parody/follow accounts, which make up 16 per cent of the most-
retweeted accounts during the debate and fully 28 per cent after. Thus, whereas we
had noted that Freelon and Karpfs (2015) similar nding had been based on an
analysis of tweets about specic debate moments, when we take a broader view,
we nd such humorous and parody accounts continue to be prominently represented
in terms of retweets throughout the debate (and even more so after).
Discussion
Our evidence attests to the continuing signicance of the broadcast political event,
even in the face of fragmentation of media and audience attention (Jungherr, 2014;
Lin et al, 2014). But the broadcast rst screenno longer stands alone: it is now
joined by a host of second screensthat allow users not only to respond to what
happens on television, but also to see and interact with otherssocial media messages
about it. (Vaccari et al (2015) point out that some social media users never actually
tune in to the rst screenduring major political events, but only encounter it
via othersposts.) We thus investigated to what extent the publics attention as
measured by its tweeting activity can be explained by content reaching arriving via
that second screen, and specically, messages from political and media elites.
And we found that it can be: most of all, our data validate the sense of parties and
campaigns that social media is a channel with which to reach the public during a
media event (Kreiss, 2014). In nearly every case, the Twitter activity of party handles
and pundits signicantly predicted public discussion of the candidates in the debate.
Somewhat surprisingly, the activity of media handles had no comparable effect.
These ndings substantiate our hypothesis that the spin roomhas moved into real
time, and onto social media: it is clear that the contestation of political meaning is
taking place in real time, all of the time and in interaction with social media.
Critical to studies of the hybrid media system is the question of who plays the
largest role in dening that meaning. A perennial question in studies of digital media
is the extent to which new media develop spaces of discussion relatively more free
of the control of elites (for example, Castells, 2009). While we know that many
Wells et al
222 © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
Twitter users were quite focused on the debates, and social media enabled them
to speak backto the broadcast messages, in often unpredictable, creative forms
(Freelon and Karpf, 2015), our nding of real-time spin also suggests there is an
ironic sense in which social media have enabled elite communicators to invade to
colonize one of the rare, few domains in which they did not already have powerful
sway. We have cited media eventsunique ability to interrupt the typical ow of
everyday life and everyday media to run for a brief 90180 min without the
incessant chattering of pundits and journalists. For citizens engaging media events
with a second screen, that has come to an end. If Dayan and Katz (1992) could
imagine a social scene in a private space such as a living room, second screens have
invited in commentators as though they are sitting on the couch next to us. In fact,
in an age of alone togetherness(Turkle, 2012), is it possible some viewers are even
more withthe personalities of the media sphere than in their own social space? This
question demands further attention.
Aqualication of this characterization of our ndings is in order. Though we did
identify consistent signicanteffects of elite gurestweets (or more precisely, retweets
of those tweets), the explanatory power of our models indicated that our measures of elite
activity typically accounted for just under 10 per cent of the variance in the dependent
variables. (In France, our key variables accounted for less variance in absolute terms, but
because the models were relatively less well t than those of the American case, a larger
proportion of total variance explained.) Thus, though we found that Twitter activity
about the debates is inuenced by elite message-sending, that inuence is far from
deterministic: there is a lot of Twitter activity about the debates not related to the elite
behavior examined here. In a hybrid media system, it should be no surprise that elite
contributions are but one of many spurs of activity.
Divergent social media cultures?
Our analysis of the most-retweeted individuals during and after the debates builds on
this general nding, though the differences between the two countries have become
evident. In France, the most-retweeted handles were political elites, with media elites
trailing close behind; other actors were almost non-existent consistent with a story
of elite dominance of French political communications and the results of Table 3.
In the United States, the nding that political and media elites were highly retweeted
also parallels our regression ndings (Hawthorne et al, 2013). But the pattern of
retweeting in the United States raises two important points: rst, though the activity
of journalistic media accounts was not a signicant spur of activity during the debate
(per Table 3), journalists made up a sizable portion of the most-retweeted handles.
3
Second, the much greater prominence of humor and parody accounts in the United
States may indicate the presence of a Twitter culture that does not have a parallel
in France. Freelon and Karpf (2015; see also Driscoll et al, 2013) highlight
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223© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
these accounts as evidence that average citizens can gain a voice on Twitter.
Itisinterestingthatwhentheydoso,ittakes this particular ironic, humorous, meme-
ied form: it is the expression of a powerful strain of Internet culture that revels in the
rapid, real-time creation of shareable memes often made of quotes, mashups and
revealing contrasts (Jenkins, 2006). Moreover, the rise in the relative retweeting of joke
accounts in the period following the US debate may indicate the continuing conversation
of hard coreTwitter users those who have turned their attention to other matters but
continue to follow the ideas coming out of accounts established during the debate.
No such digital culture was apparent in the French case, where elites dominate
the lists of most-retweeted. This nding conforms to the generally held view that the
French Twitter universe is highly elite dominated and of French political commu-
nication more generally as a closed shopof Paris-based political junkies (Riutort,
2007) not very open to a widening of citizen participation (Maarek, 2009). Whether
such a culture takes another form that does not take an interest in presidential debates
or that our particular analytic strategy missed should be investigated.
We should also, of course, interrogate the generally optimistic, democratizing
interpretation of the prominence of such accounts in the United States. It is notable,
for instance, that so much of the highly retweeted humor is originating with new
accounts, not typical citizensaccounts, and that they typically serve no further
purpose after the debate (Lin et al, 2014). While irony and humor are indeed styles
that make it safe to engage in political discourse in a cynical society probably
especially so on Twitter it is not clear how much this can even be considered a
political discourse. It may have political content, but its primary intent appears to be,
for all intents and purposes, to gain followers: jokes appear to have signicant
currency as a means of boosting ones visibility on Twitter(Driscoll et al, 2013).
Coproducing or coopting?
One of our orienting questions for this study concerned how the new media
environment has changed how political meaning was created and contested. What
we have found is that the answer is not a clear one: citizens do now contribute to a
stream of political communication that is public, and closely monitored by journalists
and others. And citizens sometimes attract substantial attention, especially (in the
American case) through the peculiar medium of parody and satire. At the same time,
the addition of social media to the debate moment has by no means removed political
and media elites from the scene (Margolis and Resnick, 2000; cf. Hindman, 2009).
Campaign strategists now reach citizens in real time, with no mediation of journalists
(Bennett and Manheim, 2006), and their commentary appears to indeed attract
attention and activity on the part of the political Twitterverse. The spin room may be
quiet after the debate a period that may now be the provenance of Twitter humorists
and wits but it is alive and well during it, now in real time.
Wells et al
224 © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
Limitations
The study presented here has several limitations that we should acknowledge in the
interest of contextualizing our ndings and improving research in this emergent area.
One choice we made was to pre-select political and media elites on the basis of their
prominence in Twitter during the 2012 campaigns. This contributed face validity in the
sense that we selected exactly those handles most associated with prominent Twitter
activity, and allowed us to create meaningful categories of elite users. At the same time,
this technique made it feasible to identify only a limited number of these (300 in each
country), and of course, a few of these chose not to participate on Twitter during our key
periods of interest. This obstacle can be overcome by techniques that dene elites on the
basis of a metric such as follower count (Lin et al, 2014) or veried status,butthese
tend not to be able to well specify what kinds of users these elitesare.
The limited list of elites, combined with the need to enter variables with
meaningful variation into our models also led us not to use the tweets of elites
directly, but instead retweets of their messages. We believe this is a defensible choice
based on the fact that many individuals will encounter messages not from elites
directly but through those retweets (a process of imitation; Tarde, 1903; Lazarsfeld
et al, 1948; Wu et al, 2011; Shah et al, 2015), but nonetheless it would have been
preferable to more directly measure the impacts of elitestweets.
Along those same lines, it is certain that Twitter users are not only responding
to televised images and elitesmessages on Twitter, they surely also tweet in
response to their friend networks. Future research should devise a way to account
for this; the question of elitesroles during debates especially calls for comparing
the relative effects of different elements within a given Twitter users personal
communication network.
And nally, though our criterion variable of Twitter activity about the debate
contestants was an obvious choice, it should not pass as unproblematic. We have
tended to conate aggregate user activity (tweeting) with media effect, arguing that
it represents moments of some kind reaction or arousal. But in fact, of course, the
act of tweeting and being affected by a media moment are not the same thing, and
research considering the relationship is greatly needed as more and more work is
done in the area.
Acknowledgements
The authors wish to express their thanks to Dr Axel Meireder for help assembling the
list in the French case, and Stephanie D. Lassen for help with coding the French
debate. This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea
Grant funded by the Korean Government NRF-2013S1A3A2055285.
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225© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
Notes
1 For the information included in each Twitter object, see dev.twitter.com/docs/platform-objects.
2 We also ran models using lagged measures of our dependent variables (see Shah et al, forthcoming);
these models performed signicantly less well than those presented here, perhaps indicating the rapid
die-off of the effects described.
3 It is possible that this is partly an artifact of our analytic technique: because we used retweets of handles
as the measure of their activity in our independent variables, we had to remove them from the dependent
variable. It is therefore possible that a highly retweeted category of user might not appear to predict
general user activity if many people retweeted those users but did not otherwise engage with them or
the ideas they posted. That is, users may be more likely to reply to a pundit or party handle in which
case their response would occur in our data set. Future research might explore how users respond and
interact differently to these different sorts of elite actors during debates.
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228 © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
Appendix A
Table A1: Elite handles selected for American case, by category
Advocacy groups (48) Party (67) Celebrities (5) Media (97) Pundits (83)
@abaesq @agstevebullock @ehasselbeck @abc @aburnspolitico
@aclu @allenwest @garysinise @abcfactcheck @anamariecox
@acuconservative @askgeorge @johncusack @AJEnglish @andrewbreitbart
@aei @barackobama @MiaFarrow @andersoncooper @andylevy
@acio @berkley4senate @rosie @anncurry @anncoulter
@afphq @bobmcdonnell @bbcworld @ariannahuff
@americanxroads @dennyrehberg @bloomberg @benpolitico
@amprog @devinnunes @bostonglobe @billmaher
@brookingsinst @dwstweets @bretbaier @borowitzreport
@catoinstitute @elizabethforma @brianstelter @ByronYork
@charteralliance @ericcantor @BuzzFeed @CharlesMunn1
@citizens_united @george_lemieux @BuzzFeedBen @danbalz
@club4growth @georgeallenva @cbsnews @daveweigel
@commoncause @GOP @chucktodd @david_gergen
@familiesusa @GovChrisitie @cjr @davidaxelrod
@farmbureau @govchristie @cnetnews @DavidLimbaugh
@focusfamily @governoromalley @cnn @donnabrazile
@freedomtomarry @governorperry @CNNPolitics @drudge_report
@freedomworks @GovWalker @current @eugene_robinson
@hcan @heather4senate @DailyCaller @ewerickson
@hrc @heinrich4nm @davidgregory @exposeliberals
@moveon @jayinslee @edshow @ezraklein
@naral @JoeBiden @enews @vethirtyeight
@nationalcorn @johnboehner @ethanklapper @foxnation
@neatoday @johncornyn @factcheckdotorg @ggreenwald
@nb @jonbruning @FAIRmediawatch @glennbeck
@nomtweets @jonhuntsman @FoxNews @govmikehuckabee
@nrdc @judybiggert @gallupnews @jbouie
@nrlc @kevincoughlin @GlennKesslerWP @jjauthor
@occupywallst @kevinomccarthy @gstephanopoulos @jmartpolitico
@peoplefor @leeterry2012 @guardiannews @joenbc
@ppact @leonardboswell @HufngtonPost @johnfugelsang
@public_citizen @maloneyforwv @HuffPostPol @jonahnro
@publichealth @mazieforhawaii @jaketapper @JONWEXFORD
@sbalist @maziehirono @jdickerson @joshtpm
@seiu @michelebachmann @jeffjarvis @karlrove
@sierra_club @MichelleObama @jimcramer @KatyinIndy
@taxreformer @mittromney @kasie @keitholbermann
@tppatriots @nancypelosi @latimes @KOSMOSNET
@uschamber @newtgingrich @LATimesbiz @krauthammer
@OccupyWallStNYC @Obama2012 @latinopolitics @LarrySabato
@TeaPartyExpress @ovide2012 @markknoller @LeslieMarshall
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229© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
Table A1: (Continued )
Advocacy groups (48) Party (67) Celebrities (5) Media (97) Pundits (83)
@TeaPartyOrg @patmccrorync @mattbai @limbaugh
@thegrio @pattymurray @mediaite @lolgop
@grist @petesessions @megynkelly @Love0fFreedom
@WashingtonDCTea @reincepriebus @mehdirhasan @maddow
@Heritage @repberkley @michele_norris @markos
@thinkprogress @repgosar @mmfa @mattyglesias
@repgregwalden @msnbc @mckaycoppins
@repjimmatheson @MysteryPollster @MelissaTweets
@repjohnlarson @nationaljourna @michaelemlong
@repkinzinger @NBCNews @michellemalkin
@repmikemcintyre @newsbusters @Miller51550
@repsteveisrael @newshour @mollyesque
@ricksantorum @Newsupdate_25 @morocca
@robmckenna @nickconfessore @newsbusters
@ronpaul @nprnews @nickkristof
@RyanGOP @NYTimes @nytimesdowd
@senatorreid @onthemedia @nytimesfriedman
@senjonkyl @OpenSecretsDC @nytimeskrugman
@SenRonJohnson @Politico @OBAMA_GAMES
@tammybaldwinwi @politifact @peggynoonannyc
@thedemocrats @postpolitics @Politics_PR
@timkaine @postpolls @PositiveEnerG
@toddakin @Poynter @ron_fournier
@whiphoyer @PranayGupte @RyanLizza
@whitehouse @radiobabe @sarahpalinusa
——@ralstonash @seanhannity
——@RasmussenPoll @stefcutter
——@reuters @stephenathome
——@RollCall @StevenErtelt
——@Slate @sullydish
——@snopes @The_News_DIVA
——@soledad_obrien @thedailyshow
——@streetkode @theharryshearer
——@sunfoundation @theonion
——@terrymoran @ThePlumLineGS
——@TheAtlantic @tjholthaus
——@thecaucus @TPO_Hisself
——@TheDailyBeast @tweetAmiracle
——@theeconomist @USRealityCheck
——@thex @wegoted
——@thehill @zennie62
——@TIME
——@TPM
——@tw_top_politics
——@TWCBreaking
——@UnivisionNews
Wells et al
230 © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
Appendix B
Table A1: (Continued )
Advocacy groups (48) Party (67) Celebrities (5) Media (97) Pundits (83)
——@usatoday
——@usnews
——@washingtonpost
——@weeklystandard
——@WestWingReport
——@wolfblitzercnn
——@wsj
——@wsjwashington
——@yahoonews
Note: Total number of handles in each category are shown in parentheses next to the category header.
Table B1: Elite handles selected for French case, by category
Advocacy groups (25) Celebrities (11) Media (114) Party and government (88) Pundits (62)
@allianceVITA @Maitre_Eolas @FRANCE24 @Elysee @Bravepatrie
@amnestyfrance @TomDeNimes @lemondefr @francediplo @Sylvain_Quimene
@attac_fr @MartinParent_ @20Minutes @Senat_Info @stanislaskazal
@cfdt @mbaladieudo @LEXPRESS @Place_Beauvau @Votre_Pere
@cgtsiteinternet @valtrier @libe @l_gouv @Ragoemaere
@CNBarreaux @carlabruni @Le_Figaro @Bordeaux @le_gora
@force_ouvriere @stephaneguillon @mediapart @Toulouse @morandiniblog
@medef @ruquierofciel @Rue89 @Senat_Direct @NicolasBedos1
@SOS_racisme @farrugiadom @BFMTV @nantesfr @dannycohnbendit
@SOShomophobie @arnoklarsfeld @franceinter @Strategie_Gouv @michelonfray
@USM_magistrats @debbouzejamel @LeNouvelObs @prefpolice @corinnelepage
@caritasfrance @le_Parisien @fhollande @chevenement
@CNRS @Afpfr @nicolassarkozy @DarmonMichael
@EetR_National @Franceinfo @MLP_ofciel @GG_RMC
@Femen_France @RTLFrance @Bayrou @Eberretta
@Inter_LGBT @Cchaffanjon @JLMelenchon @DominiqueReynie
@Yagg @Europe1 @Jcheminade @AlexHervaud
@LaManifPourTous @France24_fr @EvaJoly @aurelherbemont
@laquadrature @JJbourdin_RMC @PhilipePoutou @Tariqkrim
@Mlpresident @Slatefr @Dupontaignan @pierresalviac
@NonAuSocialisme @ARTEfr @Cheminade2012 @StevenJambot
@oxfamfrance @Mariann2fr @Nathaliearthaud @LS_Tatihou
@UNEF @ParisMatch @Alainjuppe @martin76130
@WWFFrance @LaurenceFerrari @Bcazeneuve @carolinedehaas
@Le_CRIF @jmaphatie @benoithamon @MsieurLapique
——@LesEchos @Bruno_LeMaire @GuillaumeTC
——@Michelmn_pol @BrunoLeRoux @pascalcardonna
——@LeHuffPost @CecileDuot @pierrejovanovic
Coproduction or cooptation?
231© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
Table B1: (Continued )
Advocacy groups (25) Celebrities (11) Media (114) Party and government (88) Pundits (62)
——@RFI @datirachida @WendyBouchard
——@itele @desarnez @claudeposternak
——@pierrehaski @f_philippot @FerryLuc
——@LePoint @Fdelapierre @E_Dupin
——@bernstephane @Flefebvre_UMP @OnZeLeft
——@MYTF1News @franck_louvrier @jack_lang
——@TV5MONDE @FrancoisFillon @AlainMinc
——@franceculture @frebsamen @nicolasbeytout
——@ELLEfrance @geoffroydidier @Josebove
——@Wilfrid_Esteve @laurossignol @LaurenceParisot
——@courrierinter @GillesBoyer @blogzemmour
——@SophiaAram @Herve_Morin @Leasalame
——@publicsenat @jccambadelis @audreypulvar
——@aslapix @jeanmarcayrault @antoinedecaunes
——@Challenges @jf_cope @Michel_denisot
——@quatremer @jpraffarin @Finkielkraut
——@samuellaurent @julienbayou @Bhl
——@RTBFinfo @LaurentFabius @zemmourinfos
——@francetvinfo @manuelvalls @SergeMoati
——@lavoixdunord @MartineAubry @Arretsurimages
——@RFIAfrique @louis_aliot @IfopOpinion
——@LCPan @montebourg @FogielMarcO
——@leLab_E1 @Michel_morano @Francoislenglet
——@atlantico_fr @najatvb @AlainDuhamel
——@JeudyBruno @olbesancenot @LaurentMauduit
——@RMCinfo @RoyalSegolene @pascalriche
——@ThomasWieder @SleFoll @AuroreGorius
——@Laurent_Joffrin @valeriomotta @ndemorand
——@magnac3 @vpecresse @lofejoma
——@lalibrebe @Marion_M_Le_Pen @JFAchilli
——@valeurs @n_km @ydekerdrel
——@LCI @Claudebartolone @NathalieSchuck
——@egaucher @RoxaneDecorte @edwyplenel
——@B_Roger_Petit @Chantal_Jouanno @C_barbier
——@nextinpact @Eciotti
——@MryEmery @JeanLucRomero
——@AlexLemarie @Yvesjego
——@Midilibre @Dassouline
——@Nice_Matin @GilbertCollard
——@MediapartLive @DebordValerie
——@Lopinion_fr @Mlebranchu
——@condentiels @Cgirard
——@MotsCroises @Jcgaudin
——@GillesKLEIN @villepin
——@francebleu @ericwoerth
——@Gtabard @r_bachelot
——@bastienhugues @ump
——@leplus_obs @partisocialiste
——@France @FN_ofciel
——@fgerschel @MoDem
——@dnatweets @EELV
Wells et al
232 © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
Table B1: (Continued )
Advocacy groups (25) Celebrities (11) Media (114) Party and government (88) Pundits (62)
——@TVMAG @LePG
——@bruce_toussaint @CNPCF
——@marineturchi @NPA2009
——@gchampeau @DLF_ofciel
——@vnataf @Fdg
——@BrunoMasure @SetP_ofciel
——@ivanrioufol @LutteOuvrier
——@TV5MONDEINFO @PaulLarrouturou
——@RTSinfo @JLBorloo
——@patthomas ——
——@infos140 ——
——@rosselin ——
——@GuillaumeDaret ——
——@Alkanz ——
——@Livredelire ——
——@orencedesruol ——
——@sebastienfolin ——
——@MMaestracci ——
——@SO_Bordeaux ——
——@NewsEnContinu ——
——@DanielGGirard ——
——@renaudpila ——
——@tatianaderosnay ——
——@lemondelive ——
——@Linformatrice ——
——@davidpujadas ——
——@l_peillon ——
——@LeMondeEcoEnt ——
——@LaCroixCom ——
——@ArLeparmentier ——
——@PPDA ——
——
@CNNFrancePR ——
——@CNNi ——
——@Beaudonnet ——
——@FredPaya ——
Note: Total number of handles in each category are shown in parentheses next to the category header.
Coproduction or cooptation?
233© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1476-3419 French Politics Vol. 14, 2, 206233
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... A notable breakthrough occurred with a grant-funded initiative at Dartmouth College that paired political scientists with researchers in psychology to provide the field with a set of replicable criteria for coding nonverbal political behavior, including facial expressions and gestural repertoires (see Lanzetta et al. 1985;Masters et al. 1986). These behavioral coding criteria can be applied to still photographs, moving images, digital media, or television, and remain applicable across time and different international contexts (see Bucy and Gong 2016;Bucy and Stewart 2018;Wells et al. 2016). Yet, for over a decade, the utility of this framework for analyzing political behavior was, at least at first, not much utilized or appreciated beyond the Dartmouth Group's own studies. ...
... Social media marketing tools have been instrumental in elections and in the communication of politicians with their constituents in the USA (Enli, 2017;Baumgartner and Morris, 2010) and in India (Safiullah, 2019). Other countries where social media tools and platforms have played key roles, include France (Wells et al., 2016), the Philippines (Safranek, 2012;Rafael, 2003), Malaysia (Smeltzer and Keddy, 2010), Iran (Marandi et al, 2010;Morozov, 2009;Bazzi, 2009), Pakistan (Shaheen, 2008), China (Guobin, 2009), and Nigeria (Udanor et al, 2016). ...
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