The Use of Twitter by Congressional Campaigns Open Access

Macdonald, Mary (Summer 2020)

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Who do politicians speak to when they post on social media sites such as Twitter? The extant literature theorizes that these platforms are a democratizing space, where candidates for Congress provide information directly to the public and the public respond. I evaluate this claim using interviews with congressional candidates and staff, descriptive trends in Twitter follows and connections, as well as the content of tweets. I find no evidence that Twitter enhances the democratic connection between elected officials and their constituents. Rather, Twitter is used by congressional campaigns as a tool to communicate to fellow elites to gain offline benefits. 

Table of Contents

Introduction Public Communication in Congressional Campaigns Tweets as Strategic Signals Twitter Data Collection & Descriptive Trends Changing Audiences, Changing Messages? Money Please! Testing the Interest Group Connection Conclusions: Re-Visiting Tweets as Strategic Signals

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