Table of Contents
Social Science Computer Review
Volume 25, No. 4
Special Issue: Technology and Political Campaigns
Guest Editor: Costas Panagopoulos, Ph.D.
Technology and the Transformation
of Political Campaign Communications / Costas Panagopoulos
The Technological Development of
Congressional Candidate Websites: How and Why Candidates Use Web Innovations /
James N. Druckman, Martin J. Kifer, & Michael Parkin
Abstract: The Internet offers political candidates a new way to campaign. Part of the Internet's novelty comes from technological options not available in most other media. Candidates, however, must weigh various benefits and costs in using a given technological innovation. For example, technology that allows for increased user interactivity may lead to a more stimulating website but it also might distract users from the campaign's central message. In this paper, we use data from 444 congressional campaign websites, over two elections, to examine how candidates approach Web technology. We also investigate the factors that lead candidates to either utilize or avoid particular technological features. We show that technological adoption is determined by both practical and strategic political considerations. Of particular interest is that the competitiveness of a candidate's race leads the candidate to use more sophisticated presentation technologies but less advanced interactive innovations, since these latter options interfere with the candidate's message.
Keywords: campaigns, candidate strategy, web technology, new media, internet campaigning.
Closing the Gap, Raising the Bar:
Candidate Web Site Communication in the 2006 Campaigns for Congress / Girish J.
Gulati & Christine B. Williams
Abstract: This article examines online campaigning for the U.S. Congress in 2006. Increases in web presence have slowed and appear at or near a plateau, with minor-party candidates closing the gap with major party candidates in Senate races. A content analysis of the campaign web sites of every U.S. Senate (n=114) and House (n=894) candidate reveals that baseline informational web content and features promoting engagement and mobilization have become standardized, but that Senate sites are more sophisticated technologically. Minor-party candidates lagged behind major-party candidates, however, in all forms of content. Multivariate analyses reveal that financial resources underwrite the highest levels of informational and engagement content and constitute a moving hurdle for disadvantaged candidates. Democrats, Greens and challengers demonstrated more interest in relationship building; and the competitiveness of the race increased the likelihood of using the web site for mobilizing supporters. Web site features and functionality that allow citizens to co-produce content and interact in two-way communication with the campaign and each other are not being adopted widely or quickly, and it is an open question whether and how candidates might integrate new social networking tools into their campaign strategies.
Keywords: Campaign web sites, online campaigns, 2006 mid-term elections, U.S. Senate, U.S. House
Technology? The Use of Computing
and Network Technology in State Legislative Campaigns / Chapman Rackaway
Online Fundraising and Contributors
in the 2004 Presidential Campaign / Costas Panagopoulos & Daniel Bergan
Abstract: Online fundraising for political campaigns has grown substantially in recent election cycles, raising new and important questions about how this phenomenon is affecting the composition of the donor pool. In this article, we use data from a survey of donors in the 2004 presidential election to compare the demographic, socioeconomic and political characteristics of online and offline donors. We find mostly similarities between the two donor pools, although online donors tend to be younger and more politically active. The results also show that candidates on the left were more successful at motivating online contributions in 2004.
Keywords: Internet, campaign fundraising, online donors, web technology, campaign strategy
The Ineffectiveness of E-vites to
Democracy: Field Experiments Testing the Role of E-Mail on Voter Turnout /
David W. Nickerson
Weblog Campaigning in the German
Bundestag Election 2005 / Steffen Albrecht, Maren Lübcke, & Rasco
Abstract: Election campaigns are catalysts for new forms of political communication. They are a field of experimentation for new techniques and technologies to reach target groups and influence voters. The German Bundestag election in 2005 is a case in point. Inspired by the 2004 U.S. presidential election, a new medium of communication was employed for the first time in Germany: weblogs. This paper explores how weblogs were used in the 2005 campaign by different political actors, asking for the impact of weblogs on the mediatized political field.
We empirically analyze a sample of 317 weblogs that focused on the campaign. Based on mediatization theory and previous research on campaign weblogs, we examine weblog usage along the dimensions of activity, interactivity and connectedness.
The results indicate that the media logic dominating contemporary democracies has a strong impact on weblog use, as attention is primarily drawn to prominent bloggers. But the results also show that weblogs allow new actors to engage in campaign communication and help bridging the ideological divides of the political field. Although these results are limited by the fact that the political blogosphere in Germany is still "under construction," they reveal the potential of weblogs to enrich campaigns.
Keywords: Weblogs, Campaign, Political Communication, Election, Germany, Network Analysis
Note: Two additional symposium articles had to be delayed for space reasons to the 26(3) issue. These are:
Bloggers at the Gates: Ned Lamont, Blogs, and the Rise of Insurgent Candidates / Kevin A Pirch
Voters, MySpace and YouTube: The Impact of Alternative Communication Channels on the 2006 Election Cycle and Beyond / Vassia Gueorguieva
These articles should appear shortly on Sage Online First:
"OnlineFirst" is a new feature on the SSCR Website that allows articles to be published online before they appear in print. Once a final manuscript has been accepted for publication and undergone the production process, it is posted in the OnlineFirst section until eventually being moved to a regular issue. Each article will have been assigned a unique DOI (Digital Object Identifier), and can be cited by referencing the DOI. Also, the OnlineFirst articles will be crawled by Google, Google Scholar, and other search engines, and they will show up in the results screen when pertinent search terms are used. Authors can claim the articles as "published" on their CVs for tenure review purposes. OnlineFirst for SSCR will provide a competitive advantage over other journals that do not have this feature. To visit the new section, click the OnlineFirst "button" at http://ssc.sagepub.com.