Social networking websites and voter turnout
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Social networking websites (SNWs) like Facebook and Twitter have played an increasing role in American politics. The social networking phenomenon has been discussed heavily in the press, but little scholarship has examined the direct effects, if any, of SNWs on voter turnout. This paper investigated whether accessing political content through SNWs affected the likelihood that individuals would vote in the 2008 presidential election. To examine this question, the paper used the Pew Center dataset titled November 2008 Post-Election Tracking Survey. This random-digit telephone survey dataset examined both voting behavior during the presidential election and online activity prior to the election. Using a probit regression model, this paper determined that a very significant relationship existed between accessing political content on SNWs and the likelihood of voting. The findings estimated that voter turnout increased by 1 vote for every 11 to 25 people who accessed political content on SNWs, depending on the specification used. The practical implications of this finding for political campaigns are powerful.
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