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Controlling the MessageNew Media in American Political Campaigns$
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Victoria A. "Farrar-Myers and Justin S. Vaughn

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479886357

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479886357.001.0001

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The Influence of User-Controlled Messages on Candidate Evaluations

The Influence of User-Controlled Messages on Candidate Evaluations

(p.155) 8 The Influence of User-Controlled Messages on Candidate Evaluations
Controlling the Message

Joshua Hawthorne

Benjamin R. Warner

NYU Press

This chapter examines the extent to which social media communication influenced voter attitudes toward political candidates in the 2012 presidential election. Focusing on the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and Romney's leaked comments about the 47 percent of Americans whom he identified as not paying income tax, the chapter considers the relationship between social media communication and candidate perception. It first discusses the rise of social media as a tool for political engagement, and especially in election campaigns, before assessing the effects of political communication on voter evaluations of candidates. It shows that social media influence candidate evaluations, albeit in a limited and context-dependent manner, and that this relationship is driven by the political party affiliation of the respondent.

Keywords:   social media, political candidates, presidential election, presidential debate, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, election campaigns, political communication, voter attitudes

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