Tweeting Negative: Determinants of Negative Campaigning in the 2011 Gubernatorial Elections

Tweeting Negative: Determinants of Negative Campaigning in the 2011 Gubernatorial Elections

Marija Anna Bekafigo (University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS, USA) and Allison Clark Pingley (University of South Carolina, Spartanburg, SC, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJEP.2015010103


The use of negative ads in traditional election campaigns has been well-documented, but the authors know little about the use of Twitter to “go negative.” They content analyze candidate tweets from four different gubernatorial elections in 2011 to understand how candidates are using Twitter. They coded 849 tweets to explain the determinants of “going negative” on Twitter. The results show that while tweets are overwhelmingly positive, candidates go negative by tweeting about policy. They believe this supports the innovation hypothesis, with Twitter being a more conducive forum for policy-based messages. Other determinants of negative campaigning such as competitiveness of the race and campaign funding were consistent with the normalization hypothesis.
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Negative Campaigns On Traditional Media

The longest lasting appeals made by candidates are negative (Ansolabehere & Iyengar, 1995; Damore, 2002; Jamieson, 1992; Jerit, 2004; Kaid & Johnston, 1991). Even though most voters claim to dislike negative messages, they are thought to be effective (Martin, 2004).

Studies of political advertisements have shown that candidates use negative ads because they are memorable and stimulate interest in campaigns (Ansolabehere & Iyengar, 1995; Jamieson, 1992; Jerit, 2004; Kaid & Johnston, 1991; Lau, Sigelman, & Rovner, 2007; Martin, 2004). Following a similar rationale, it would be likely that candidates would post negative tweets on Twitter.

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