State Parties 2.0: Facebook, Campaigns, and Elections

By Marija Bekafigo, Diana Cohen, Jason Gainous and Kevin Wagner.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Online social networking sites are rapidly becoming a central component of the modern political campaign. We build a theoretical framework to explain how and why state party organizations are incorporating social networking sites - Facebook in particular - into their strategy to support their candidates. After offering some descriptive evidence documenting this outreach effort, we estimate a series of models to explain both some factors that contributed to the effectiveness of state parties’ efforts to reach the public through Facebook in the 2010 state elections and how well the efforts complemented their larger effort to gain seats in their respective state legislatures. The results indicate, first, that Republicans seemed to do a better job of reaching the public through Facebook, that active use of Facebook by both parties attracted potential voters to their profiles, and that increased party expenditures also attracted people. Second, the results indicate that a growing Facebook following across the course of the election provided a larger electoral benefit for Democrats than Republicans. We offer some theoretical speculation to account for this inherent paradox.

Keywords: theme: technologies in community, Social Media, Elections, American Politics

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.99-112. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 584.080KB).

Dr. Marija Bekafigo

Assistant Professor, Political Science Department, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, USA

Marija Anna Bekafigo is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern Mississippi. She received her PhD from the University of Florida. Her research interests include the intersection between politics and social media, and the U.S. Congress. Her articles have appeared in Comparative Political Studies and Social Science Computer Review. She was recently awarded a Dirksen Congressional Research Award (2012) to complete her study on party leaders and committee chairs in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Dr. Diana Cohen

Associate Professor, Political Science Department, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT, USA

Diana Tracy Cohen currently serves as an Associate Professor of Political Science at Central Connecticut State University. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Florida. Her research interests include Internet and media politics, campaigns and elections, and the politics of sport. Her current research project explores the relationship between Web technology and the expansion of conservative populism.

Dr. Jason Gainous

Associate Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Jason Gainous is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. Prior to accepting the position at Louisville in 2006, he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and a Visiting Instructor at Southern Illinois University. He was born in Lakeland, Florida and did his undergraduate work in political science at Florida Atlantic University before receiving a master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Florida. His research interests include American politics, public opinion and political behavior, political psychology, campaigns and elections, media and politics, survey research, and methodology. Dr. Gainous has presented his research at many political science conferences around the country. He has also published various book chapters and articles in journals including Political Research Quarterly, Political Communication, and Statistical Science. His research has won awards from the American Political Science Association, the Florida Political Science Association, and the University of Florida.

Dr. Kevin Wagner

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Florida Atlantic University, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA

Dr. Wagner received his J.D. from the University of Florida and worked as an attorney and member of the Florida Bar with the law firm of Scott, Harris, Bryan, Barra, and Jorgensen in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He returned to the University of Florida five years later to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science. His research and teaching interests include judicial politics, political behavior, legislative behavior, American political development, media and politics, and American political thought. The main theme animating his research is an interest in understanding political change in democratic systems including the shifts in institutional powers through the gradual change of popular perceptions. He is currently working on a book manuscript on the effect of the Internet on American Politics. His work has been published in leading journals and presented at national conferences including the MPSA and SWPA.

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