Social Media Incumbent Advantage: Barack Obama's and Mitt Romney's Tweets in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election Campaign
Naper, Anja Aaheim
; Peer reviewed
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Institutt for medier og kommunikasjon
The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics. 2016, 364-378
The aim of this chapter is to investigate how US presidential candidates used Twitter when the first phase of novelty had passed and ‘the dust had settled’ after the 2008 Obama campaign. Focusing on the theory of the incumbent advantage, which is one of the most well documented features of US elections (Erickson 1995; Ansolabehere, Snowberg, and Snyder 2006; Jamieson 2013), this chapter will investigate to what degree the theory has relevance when transferred to social media. What kind of incumbency advantages did Obama have in relation to his challengers in the context of social media? To what degree is this advantage in social media comparable with the incumbency advantage resulting from coverage in mass media?
This chapter has five main parts. The first discusses characteristics of US the political system, and politics in the US and the implications of these characteristics for the relations between the media and politics. The second part reviews research literature on political communication and social media. The third part outlines the historical development of online campaigning and social media campaigning in the US. The fourth part will present the key findings in the comparative study of the tweets posted on the candidate accounts for Obama and Romney, while the last part concludes and pinpoints key arguments.
The final version of this research has been published in The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics. © Routledge.
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