On SAGE Insight: New forms of mobilization with the arrival of digital communication channels

Article title: New forms of mobilization, new people mobilized? Evidence from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems

From Party Politics

Mobilization efforts by parties and candidates during election campaigns tend to reach those who are more likely to vote in the first place. This is thought to be particularly consequential for turnout among the young. This study uses a new and important source of survey data—Module 4 of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems—that measures different modes of campaign contacting across 38 countries. In Module 4’s fourth release, data were gathered through national election studies conducted from 2011 through 2016. The module includes a battery measuring different campaign contacts, several types of which can be broadly divided into “traditional” and “new.” The former specifies if the contact was by mail, phone, or in-person. The latter includes e-mails, text messages, and messages or posts in social networks/micro-blogs such as Facebook or Twitter.

Partisan mobilization efforts are known to focus on particular profiles of voters—those who are already engaged and likely to respond. The arrival of digital communication channels has introduced a new and cost-effective way for parties to reach groups less usually contacted—including younger voters—and thus hold the potential to break a vicious cycle of under-mobilization and disengagement.

Abstract

Mobilization efforts by parties and candidates during election campaigns tend to reach those who are more likely to vote in the first place. This is thought to be particularly consequential for turnout among the young. Harder and less cost effective to reach, young adults are less mobilized and vote less often, creating a vicious circle of demobilization. However, new forms of political communication—including online and text messaging—have created expectations this circle might be broken. Is this happening? We examine data from Module 4 of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems surveys, looking at the prevalence of different types of party contacts in 38 countries, the profile of voters who are reached, and the effects of these efforts on turnout. New forms of party contacting do matter for turnout and partially reduce the age gap in contacting, but still fail to compensate for the much larger differentials that persist in traditional forms of contacting.

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Article details
New forms of mobilization, new people mobilized? Evidence from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems
Pedro C Magalhães, John H Aldrich, Rachel K Gibson,
First Published September 4, 2018
DOI: 10.1177/1354068818797367
From Party Politics

 

 

     
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