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The Impact of Candidates’ Tweets on Their Electoral Success

Candidate
Internet
Social Media
Big Data
Dimitra Papaxanthi
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Ioannis Andreadis
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Evangelia Kartsounidou
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Dimitra Papaxanthi
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
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Abstract

Nowadays, electoral campaigns are held through a number of means. Social media have become useful means for political campaigning. One can argue that the widen use of social media during political campaigns was triggered by Obama’s first presidential campaign as a large part of the campaign was held through social media. In addition to social media, candidates strengthening their web presence by creating and updating their own Wikipedia page, keeping their own website etc. As candidates spend more and more to establish their web presence, a question about its effectiveness as a political marketing tool is raised. Of course, along with Internet activity data, there are more “traditional” political campaigning tools such as door-knocking, visiting businesses and social organizations etc. The aim of the proposed paper is to combine information about electoral campaign of candidate MPs acquired through survey data with data produced by candidates’ web presence and activity, to study their effectiveness on the 2019 Greek Parliamentary election results. We are studying whether the different political campaigning tools affect the preferential votes each candidate gets in his constituency. The first data source is the Hellenic Candidate Study 2019. This dataset provides useful information about candidates’ political campaigns such as campaign spending, campaign means etc. The other source is internet activity data. Big data produced by Internet activity are sometimes open access data. We use data produced by candidates’ web presence during the electoral campaign on: i) Wikipedia (number of hits on each candidate’s Wikipedia page), ii) their personal web page, and iii) Twitter to study their impact on the electoral success of candidates in July 7th Greek parliamentary elections. We are particularly interested in candidates’ Twitter network. We apply an innovative method of analysis of candidate’s network starting from retweeters for each candidates’ post. We also take into account the followers of each retweeter and the candidate’s followers. In this way we explore whether the size of the Twitter network of a candidate is related to the electoral success, or in other words, whether larger network sizes are associated with more successful candidates relatively to the party share in each electoral constituency. First indications suggest that the size of candidates’ Twitter network affect the preferential votes that a candidate receives in his constituency.