Mapping Web Interactivity: A Comparative Study of Congressional Campaign Websites

Mapping Web Interactivity: A Comparative Study of Congressional Campaign Websites

Kevin Y. Wang (College of Communication, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN, USA), Hyung Min Lee (Department of Media Communication, Sungshin Women's University, Seoul, South Korea), David Atkin (Department of Communication, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA) and Cheonsoo Kim (School of Journalism, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, IN, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/ijep.2013100104

Abstract

This paper explores the use of interactive communication and dialogic relationship building strategies on political campaign Web sites. In contrast to presidential races that often feature substantially more sophisticated campaign Web sites, congressional candidates’ ability and willingness to use the Web as an electioneering tool has varied greatly. The present research sought to address two broad research questions: 1) how candidates from the same electoral districts used their Web sites during the 2006 and 2010 congressional elections; and 2) to what extent could several candidate and district level variables explain the differences in Web utilization. A typology was proposed to examine the first question, while content analysis was performed to collect empirical data that addressed the second question. Results indicate that while the use of interactive Web strategies may be concentrated among candidates with certain characteristics in 2006, the adoption of social media in political campaigns has trickled down from the presidential level, and that interactive tools have become a norm in the 2010 congressional election, with virtually no observable differences emerging among candidates. Theoretical and practical implication for online political public relations is discussed.
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The Internet And Politics: Moving From Informational To Interactive Domains

Studies on the use of the Internet in political campaigns emerged in the U.S. in the mid-1990s when candidates began to use the Web to provide traditional campaign materials such as biographical information or press releases (Corrado & Firestone, 1996). With the emergence of Web 2.0 and digital communication technologies in the subsequent years, the Web’s growing political significance can be seen in the different ways that it has shaped the contemporary political process – from how people learn about politics (e.g., Tichenor, Donohue, & Olien, 1980), or how they interact with one another or engage in conversations about politics (Scheufele, 2002), to how campaigns use various online platforms to garner resources and mobilize supporters (Zhang et al., 2010).

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