Does the Internet reinforce America's partisan divide?
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. This study used data from the 2008 United States Presidential election to investigate the relationship between the Internet and electorate polarization. The Internet offers Americans a myriad of choices for both entertainment and news, making information on almost any topic cheaper to consume and more accessible than ever. This increased choice may not be without cost, however. Research suggests that strong partisans seek out information online with which they agree, possibly resulting in a more polarized electorate; Americans today are more evenly divided along partisan lines than in the past. This study tested whether Internet users had more polarized views of the two presidential candidates and whether they were more or less likely to cross party lines when voting. Internet use was found to have no significant effect on polarization levels. Interestingly, Internet users were found to be approximately 9% more likely to cross party lines when voting than non-users. Thus, the Internet may be providing people with the power to seek out information that informs their decisions, decreasing the importance of party affiliation and overwhelming any effects of partisan information-seeking.
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