From Posting to Voting: The Effects of Political Competition on Online Political Engagement

Political Science Research and Methods (Forthcoming)

30 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2013 Last revised: 27 Jan 2015

See all articles by Jaime Settle

Jaime Settle

College of William and Mary

Robert M. Bond

Ohio State University (OSU)

Lorenzo Coviello

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Christopher J. Fariss

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine

Jason J. Jones

Stony Brook University; University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Adam Kramer

Facebook, Inc.

Cameron Marlow

Facebook, Inc.

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

How does living in a battleground state during a presidential election affect an individual's political engagement? We utilize a unique collection of 113 million status updates on Facebook to answer this persistent question in the study of political behavior by comparing users’ political discussion during the 2008 presidential election in politically competitive versus uncompetitive states. "Battleground" state users are significantly more likely to discuss politics in the campaign season than are "blackout" state users, and posting a political status update --- a form of day-to-day engagement with politics --- affects a person’s self-reported voter turnout, mediating approximately 20% of the relationship between exposure to political competition and turnout. While our results can only be generalized to the tens of millions of Facebook users and not the entire American voting age population, this paper is one of the first efforts to use the massive quantity of data generated through online social media sites to explain the microfoundations of how people think, feel, and act on a daily basis in response to their political environment.

Keywords: Facebook, emotion, voting, electoral competition, battleground states

Suggested Citation

Settle, Jaime and Bond, Robert M. and Coviello, Lorenzo and Fariss, Christopher J. and Fowler, James H. and Jones, Jason Jeffrey and Kramer, Adam and Marlow, Cameron, From Posting to Voting: The Effects of Political Competition on Online Political Engagement (2015). Political Science Research and Methods (Forthcoming) . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2232099 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2232099

Jaime Settle (Contact Author)

College of William and Mary ( email )

Williamsburg, VA 23185
United States

Robert M. Bond

Ohio State University (OSU) ( email )

Blankenship Hall-2010
901 Woody Hayes Drive
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States

Lorenzo Coviello

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

Christopher J. Fariss

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

Jason Jeffrey Jones

Stony Brook University ( email )

Health Science Center
Stony Brook, NY 11794
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jasonjones.ninja/

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

Adam Kramer

Facebook, Inc. ( email )

1601 S. California Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94304
United States

Cameron Marlow

Facebook, Inc. ( email )

1601 S. California Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94304
United States

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