Does Changing Media Reality Likely Affect the Election of 2016?

28 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2016 Last revised: 12 Sep 2016

See all articles by Charles L. Mitchell

Charles L. Mitchell

Grambling State University - Department of Public Administration

Date Written: March 24, 2016


The change and increase of importance of ICT in the 2016 election has been analyzed in several ways in this paper. Qualitative methods were utilized to substantiate the hypothesis that social media and ICT are becoming more personal and ubiquitous in 2016. The issues that occur in how to accomplish meaningful social science about this problem recommend qualitative methods. The ability of this research technique to make some incremental improvements in knowledge about a phenomenon and potential for sensitizing concepts reason qualitative techniques could produce useful results.

A purposive sample of campaign images about social media and ICT was created from images of the 2012 and 2016 election. Comparing the images in this sample from 2012 and 2016 results in persuasive support for the hypothesis this paper has been analyzing. In 2016, the presence of social media and ICT has taken on a substantially different campaign role. In 2016, the images evidence that social media and ICT are ever present and personal.

Secondary data from the coverage of the 2016 election was analyzed and found to support the perspective on the 2016 election being developed in this paper. Social media and websites/news apps were presented in Pew Research Center data as a substantial influence among citizen news sources in 2016. When this data was analyzed by age groups, the youngest group is using substantially more social media and websites/news apps for campaign information. Each of the older three groups shows a decrease in the influence of social media.

Recent political science literature attempts to explain the increasing importance of social media and ICT phenomenon in several ways. The need for social media to secure campaign endorsements has been discussed in the literature. How party activists first fine tune social media before recruiting ordinary supporters has been presented. The use of identity based targeting through social media has been considered. Campaign finance aspects of using social media has been mentioned. The influence of campaign activism, increasing ideological involvement, and the increasing need for informationalism to stay with the ideological game has been analyzed from literature. The decoupled cognition phenomenon where vivid images activate psychological motivating mechanisms has been reviewed. The evolution of social cognition from small groups to cyber-groups on line has been used to explain the increasing importance of social media and ICT. Use of montage in campaign advertising to provide for voter's informational needs has been analogized to how social media assists voters in 2016. The motivating quality of the public sphere as a voter choice factor has been presented. Data about the propensity of harmonious social networks to participate in politics has been reported. Theories that social media are an extension of citizens attitudes that allow amplification of beliefs has been analyzed from the literature. Taken together these numerous explanations for the increasing importance of social media and ICT amplify the paper's hypothesis that social media is becoming more ubiquitous and personal.

Keywords: 2016 election, media, social media, ICT, qualitative methods, purposive sampling, validity, reflexivity, social cognition

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Charles L., Does Changing Media Reality Likely Affect the Election of 2016? (March 24, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Charles L. Mitchell (Contact Author)

Grambling State University - Department of Public Administration ( email )

Grambling State University
Grambling, LA Louisiana 71245
United States

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