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Session Overview
Session
C7: Strategic Election Campaigning
Time:
Friday, 09/Sept/2022:
2:15pm - 3:15pm

Session Chair: Wiebke Drews, Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany
Location: A 026

HTW Berlin, Campus Treskowallee, Treskowallee 8, 10318 Berlin

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Presentations

Strategic social media use in political campaigning: An individual level analysis linking candidate surveys with Facebook and Twitter communication

Philipp Darius1, Sebastian Stier2

1Hertie School, Berlin, Germany; 2GESIS, Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Cologne, Germany

Relevance & Research Question

An abundance of research has studied the use of social media of election candidates. One stream of research relies on data from platforms such as Twitter and Facebook in combination with publicly available official information. Other studies have used candidate surveys to investigate the role of political candidates’ individual-level characteristics and usage motives. However, these kinds of literature do not yet speak to each other due to a lack of studies that integrate both types of research designs. This study tests existing theoretical explanations in a combined analysis of a candidate survey and social media data.
Methods & Data

In this study, we link candidate surveys with the actual social media behavior of election candidates. Concretely, we combine the candidate survey of the 2017 German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES) (N= 803) and more than 80,000 Facebook posts and tweets created by the same set of candidates during a period of three months before the 2017 German federal election. The candidate survey contains an extensive set of items which we group into three theoretical explanations of social media use and test in logistic and negative binomial regression models. (1) Resources and campaign capacities; (2) political strategy, e.g., attitudes towards the own party, individualized campaign goals, and perceptions of media coverage; and (3) social media-specific usage motives, i.e., strategic functions attributed to Facebook and Twitter.

Results
The results show that the availability of campaign resources and strategic considerations have varying effects on the adoption of and activity on social media. A principal component analysis of survey items reveals party-focused and individual-focused usage motives that are the strongest survey-based predictor of actual social media activity.
Added Value
Taken together, the study demonstrates that publicly unavailable individual-level measures can improve the understanding of election campaigning on social media. Moreover, the results emphasize the role of individual media use motives for candidates in election campaigns. Consequently, the work underlines the importance of linking online data with survey data or other data sources to advance online and political science research.



Maximizing the Audiences: Portuguese Parties' Facebook Presence in 2019

Daniel Cardoso1,2, N. Gizem Bacaksizlar Turbic3, Jorge Martins Rosa2, Marisa Torres da Silva2

1Lusófona University; 2ICNOVA, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa; 3GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

Relevance & Research Question
2019 was a double electoral year in Portugal, with both European and National elections. These marked the rise of new political parties with parliamentary representation. As part of a more encompassing research project about social media and political participation, we collected that year's posts from the official Facebook pages of parties in parliament. We investigate if the content of the more viral posts reveals global thematic trends that shaped the year's political agenda, but also specific strategies from each party. In particular, whether the party’s history, relative size or political alignment can be correlated with distinct strategies and/or with positive or negative sentiments.
Methods & Data
The raw data, consisting of posts and engagement metrics from 11 official pages, gathered with Facepager, was subject to a series of quantitative analyses to detect general trends. From a total of 6,905 posts, we have selected a subset of the 20 with highest shares per page, which were manually coded for content analysis using a self-developed coding scheme, and automated sentiment analysis.
Results
The main topics found were: Self-Promotion, Fundamental Rights, International Politics and National Politics. National Politics and Self-promotion are the most frequent overall. Differences between parties emerge, revealing classical ideological cleavages and identity-signalling strategies. The left prioritizes Fundamental Rights and economic issues in a social perspective centred on employment rights, while the right shifts the focus to economic liberties, pushes back against taxation and for securitarian initiatives. Newer and fringe parties tend to define themselves around single issues (e.g. Animal Rights). Right-wing parties also emphasize a narrative of Corruption and Ethics and Confrontation with Opponents, presenting themselves as Alternatives. Confrontational posts were evaluated for incivility or hate speech.
Added Value

Studies about the presence of political parties on social media exist, but work focused on Portugal is very scarce. Mixed-method approaches combining purely quantitative metrics with in-depth insights of content analysis are sparser. We here both present a picture of the Portuguese political panorama within the Facebook platform and contribute to the wider scientific discussion of the role of social media in politics in the European Union.



What matters for keeping and winning support in the course of a televised debate?

Thomas Waldvogel, Uwe Wagschal, Samuel Weishaupt

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany

Relevance & Research Question

What matters for keeping or winning support in the course of a televised debate? Our contribution addresses this question with real-time response and panel survey data from more than 5.000 respondents recruited in the run-up to the 2021 German national election. Our paper thus provides the first analysis of a TV triell in Germany based on a large-N-sample and extends existing findings on TV duels in the run-up to federal elections.
Methods & Data

We present real-time response and panel survey data from more than 5.000 respondents collected with the Debat-O-Meter, an Internet-based web application for mobile devices that allows us to evaluate the effects of televised political debates on large-scale audiences following the discussions in the setting of their private homes. It consists of a real-time response (RTR) measurement system and modules for instructing the audience at home and for collecting survey data.

Results

We exploit our large and diverse sample and investigate the effects of a variety of variables on changes in candidate preferences. Our findings suggest, first, that in-party identity boosts support on candidate preference. With regard to outparty-identification, a weak identity is not an effective barrier to candidate preference support; only moderate and strong party affiliations show a consistent negative effect. Second, ratings of candidates’ issue-specific statements on policy issues show a very strong effect. Third, we do not find effects of changes in valence perceptions. Fourth, the perception of being the winner of the debate is a strong predictor for support in candidate preference.

Added Value

Using the Debat-O-Meter to investigate large samples in a “natural” setting outside the lab, we exploit the heterogeneity of our study participants and are able to investigate effects of sociodemographic, socio-psychological and political variables on the effect of televised debate reception on political attitudes in more detail as it has been done before. Moreover, we present the first large-N study of a TV Triell in Germany, with results that extend previous findings, most of which were derived from the duel format.



 
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