Your Money or Your Network: Indicators of Presidential Candidate Viability in the 2008 Nomination Contest
2008 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, April 3-6, 2008
16 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2012
Date Written: April 1, 2008
This study examines campaign fundraising, campaign appearances, poll standings and social network supporters as measures of presidential candidate viability in the 2008 nomination contest. Its focus is the early contests in Iowa and New Hampshire and the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses. We collect and analyze data at both the aggregate and individual state level for the eight Democratic and seven Republican candidates who remained in the race on February 5th. Poll standings, nationally and for individual states, were the strongest predictors of candidate vote share in both the aggregate and individual state contests. Number of Facebook supporters was also positive and significant in the majority of contests. In contrast, cash on hand at the end of the 4th quarter was infrequently significant, sometimes as a positive influence and sometimes a negative influence on vote share. At the state level, the number of events held in the state is not a significant predictor of the candidate's vote share in that contest. We conclude that online campaign activity is an important additional indicator of candidate viability that is independent of traditional measures like campaign funding and poll standings. Moreover, the number of supporters seems to be highly reactive to campaign events: winners of the early Iowa and New Hampshire contests and subsequent Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses evidence a much higher than average increase in supporters than other candidates.
Keywords: Facebook, presidential nominations, elections, Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire primary, super Tuesday
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