Abstract

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Abstract

The research in this document has the objective of exploring the implications that the media has on voting behavior. The paper makes little review of cited literature, as it directly goes to do its own first hand exploration of the relationship. Traditional literatures argue that the influence that media has is little. However, with the rapid growing and vast application of technology, it is imperative to assess the impact given the rise of novel communication avenues. Minimal impact is not inherent given that many politicians employ Public Relations and that news organizations remain neutral to political parties. Moreover, there is the emergence of internet technologies where interactional platforms such as social media ‘personalize’ the perceptions of voters. The paper will make an evaluation across divergent media platforms and population bases in order to derive the suitable explanatory pattern. Argument is that media influences how voter’s mention the personality of a certain political candidate. Therefore, the paper is imperative for political critics and politicians who learn on how to employ media platforms to further their campaigns.

 

 

Media Influence on Voting Behavior

Hypothesis

The aim is to affirm that media has a significant level of influence on voting behavior. The argument is based on modern social media platforms that give the best capture of human expression and mass interaction. Media is central in the configuration of human discussion that in turn shapes public perception of matters. Media has a unique and supreme position in the conveyance of political information determining the voting behavior of the recipient bases.

Research Methodology

In order to investigate the relationship between social media and voting behavior, the research integrates three politicians who are known to use social media sites and are frank with journalists in past campaigns. Without selection of voter participants, the paper first makes a content analysis to identify the level of bias each politician has (Falck 1).

Content Analysis

Evaluation was focused primarily on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter. An external internet based service solution provider (Arbor) was integrated to analyze the sites using five attributes. The five attributes were content quality, design, speech informality, number of followers and frequency of posting. Using cookies and other internet based data collection applications, Arbor would give each candidate an attribute score with a maximum of five. Content quality was ranked using important commentary on political beliefs, informality of speech employed colloquial phrases and tone encouraging approachability (Prior 109). Design evaluates aesthetic appeal of each candidate’s page. In each category, the least value was 1 (ineffective) and the highest 5 (extremely effective).

Sampling

Apart from the three politicians, the research surveyed fifty students from a public university. Participants were chosen through random sampling. The participant sourcing method in sampling was preferred to prevent bias in the samples. Public university was preferred given that the institutions have the best levels of democratic freedom and students are all above the legal age (Markoff 1). Out of the fifty participants, 29 were men (58%), while 21 (42%) were female. The mean age was 21.23 years. All participants were American citizens. Important to note is that because of the mean age, the research has the assumption that the group represents the society. In reality, the young generation may have divergent characteristics and influences arising from the use of social media platforms (Markoff 1).

Materials

The prime resources in the research were internet enabled cellular phones and computer devices. Each participant was given either one of these gadgets to access the internet run survey. The academic institution was responsible for giving internet service provision with authorized access irrespective of location within the campus. While accessing the respective politician pages, a separate window in the browser gave an online questionnaire. An Arbor application was responsible for hosting the series of inquisitions. An external Arbor employee was integrated to maintain service of the questionnaire hosting application. The research employed two calculations for data evaluation. The first utilized mean scores to rank the candidates while the second employed ANOVA calculations to draw relationships between the different attributes and media application.

Procedure

In the examination, each participant was given access to a brief paragraph. The information displayed was taken from each of the politician’s Facebook or Twitter pages. The paragraph written in their language narrated on ‘who they are’ and what their political affiliation is without stating their names. Respondent were also to record their political preference (democrat or republican). The intent in political preference was to allow assessment of personal biases (Hellweg 29). On the questionnaire, participants would rate how trustworthy they thought each candidate is on a balance of 1-5. In addition, the participant was to rate how personable each candidate appeared and how likely they were to vote for the candidate. Lastly, the participants were required to highlight according to their perception which candidate had the most effective application of social media and superior media presence.

Data Analysis

Evaluation of Content Analysis

The first data for evaluation comes from the first content collection by Arbor in the digital recording of politician site pages. The table below diagrammatically displays the evaluation of the politician’s use of Facebook and Twitter according to the five measurement attributes.

  Content Quality Speech Informality Design Posting Frequency No. of Followers Total Score
Anderson            
(Twitter) 5 5 5 5 4 24
(Facebook) 5 4 3 3 5 20
McArthur            
(Twitter) 4 4 4 3 5 20
(Facebook) 5 4 5 4 3 21
Mildred            
(Twitter) 4 5 2 5 2 18
(Facebook) 5 5 4 5 3 22
             

Figure One: Content Analysis on Politician Social Media Attributes

 

Anderson has the superior degree of social media use highlighting the communication avenues are his personal channels for expression. The character has the least application of professional values when compared to the others on Twitter. It is not surprising that the character equally has a superior number of followers. The Facebook page though depicts use of professional and formal values. There is rich application of personal photos and videos in both media platforms. McArthur in both sites was formal. He is however in preference of political issues as opposed to Anderson in his personal discussions. The designs of the media platforms were the most appealing. Mildred in her application of internet platforms was least effective. She was immensely formal in her discussions and never indulged in personal matters. The platform designs were boring with no good application of color or other aesthetic appeals. Her designs and use of language argued against her frequency of posting resulting in the lowest number of followers.

Representation of Findings

Quantitative Analysis 

Evaluation of data recorded by Arbor servers was simple in the application of mean scores as the main mathematical determinant of voting behaviors. Concerning participant data given by Arbor, respondents argued that they were most likely to vote for the first candidate (Anderson) and least likely to opt for the third (Mildred). McArthur numbers were always between Mildred and Anderson. Out of the 50 respondents, 20 were democrats, 25 republicans and 5 as independents. From the politician paragraph assessment, attributes are ranked as the table below:

  Trustworthiness Electability Personable Voting Probability
Anderson        
(Twitter) 3.5 3.2 3.9  
(Facebook) 3.4 3.3 3.7  
Mean Score 3.45 3.25 3.8 3.02
McArthur        
(Twitter) 3.6 3.4 4.1  
(Facebook) 3.5 3.7 3.6  
Mean Score 3.55 3.55 3.9 3.2
Mildred        
(Twitter) 2.9 2.9 3.3  
(Facebook) 3.1 3.1 4.0  
Mean Score 3.0 3.0 3.65 2.7

Figure Two: Respondent Data from Online Questionnaire

 

Surprisingly from the information, McArthur had the most effective application of the social media platforms. This can be seen in the table below that in turn reflects why the character has the highest probability of being elected by the respondent base.

  Twitter Facebook Mean Media Presence
Anderson 35% 22% 35%
McArthur 43% 40% 49%
Mildred 22% 37% 16%

Figure Three: Candidate Social Media Presence

Qualitative Analysis

The objective of qualitative analysis was to derive the unique set of relationship between political use of the news sites and likelihoods of voting. The first proponent in this evaluation employed an ANOVA calculation to merit the relationship between probability of voting and the level of ‘personability’ in the site contents. The results are represented in the graph below:

 

Figure Four: ‘Personability and Voting Probability

As seen in the above diagram, the ‘personability’ of each candidate increased after the respondents gained access to their respective site contents. Equally noticeable from the table is that the degree of personality is in alignment with the attribute measurements that are trustworthiness and electability. In the analysis, one absurdity was noticed. McArthur had the highest rating in ‘personable’ at 4.1 in Twitter when compared to Anderson and Mildred. However, the candidate had the lowest rating of the same criterion in his Facebook page. Given that Facebook allows greater use of words, the divergence in the two platforms shows that too much personal sharing may adversely affect electability because of its distraction of professional issues (Hayes 241).

In the same table, it can be noticed that electability and trustworthiness of each candidate had a slight influence from the use of social media. Despite the information showing a pattern in how internet-based media channels affect voting behavior, it remains difficult to gauge the degree of influence to sufficient degrees of accuracy (Hellweg 29). Given that McArthur had the highest record of social media effectiveness, 21 participants argued that the candidate mixed family and political issues in simple and appealing ways that enabled understanding. The other two subjects had grammatical structures that were more complex to comprehend lowering interest.

Discussion

Varying Expectations from Different Media Avenues

In the research, Twitter and Facebook were chosen to highlight on how users engage in political discussions that influence their voting behavior. However, the manner in which each of the platforms was used is different. In addition, public expectations of the content posted in each site are equally divergent (Comstock 184). According to the word limitation in Twitter, users expect that posters be concise and formal. Contrastingly, in Facebook, the lack of word limitation lowers the degree of conciseness and formality required in a post. Therefore, a formal candidate would get higher ranking in Twitter while a personal one would get higher scores in Facebook. Important to note is the earlier bias in age. The degree of influence that personal content has may increase or decrease as one moves to older age groups.

Implications of Content Quality in Language and Personalized Information

In respect to the analysis in this paper, Mildred has an under load of personal statements in her social sites. The emphasis on formal discussions did not bode well with her public image. Personal comments provide the public with insight concerning one’s true personality. On the other hand, Anderson’s site had an overload of personal data. This equally did not bode well with his public image. Lack of discretion facilitates increment of personal attacks and decrement of professional appeal. Therefore, one has to derive balance in the level of personal information release on internet sites (Alotaibi 6).

Conclusion

The role of media in the realm of politics continues to evolve with each novel communication technology released in the human market. There is a direct relationship between how a politician employs the divergent media channels and public opinion. Recent literatures and studies show that with internet technologies, the influence of media on politics increases. Argument is that the modern avenues give fast access to mass audience populations. In addition, social sites give 24-hour access to news coverage facilitating continuous interaction between politicians and voters. Each media has its specific characteristics that necessitate evaluation in order to comprehend on the best way to apply to increase interaction numbers. Irrespective of nature, media will continue to remain an imperative tool in political critique and social revolution.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Alotaibi, Nasser. Media Effects on Voting Behavior. European Science Journal. 9. 20. (2013). 1-11. Print.

Biswas, Aindrila, and Roy Mousumi. Influence of Social Media on Voting Behavior. Journal of Power Politics and Governance. 2. 2. (2014). 127-155. Print.

Comstock, George A. Public Communication and Behavior. Orlando: Academic, 2006. Print.

Falck, Oliver. E-Lections: Voting behavior and the Internet. Stirling Management School. 7 April 2012. Web. 26 November 2015. http://www.management.stir.ac.uk/research/economics/workingpapers

Hayes, Danny. Has Television Personalized Voting Behavior? Political  Behavior. 31. (2009). 231-260. Print.

Hellweg, Annie. Social Media Sites of Politicians Influence Their Perception by Constituents. The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications. 2. 1. (2011). 22-37. Print.

Markoff, John. Social Networks can Affect Voter Turnout, Study Says. The New York Times. 12 September 2012. Web. 26 November 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/us/politics/social-networks-affect-voter-turnout-study-finds.html?_r=0

Prior, Marcus. Media and Political Polarization. Annual review of Political Science. 10. 11. (2013). 101-128. Print.

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