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Campaigning Online During An Election – A Study of Candidate Responses

Open Panel

Abstract

Whilst much has been made of the impact of online political campaigning during elections there has only been limited research on how candidates use such tools to engage with the electorate during an election. In this paper we report the results of an innovative email response study with parliamentary candidates in the 2010 UK General Election. We emailed a sample of nearly 800 candidates during the election campaign and analysed their replies. We compared response rates by: party, characteristics of candidate, type of constituency and response times. We also conducted a textual analysis of the content of the email responses. This timely study provides a unique insight into the nature of online campaigning and the communication techniques of candidates and political parties during an intensely fought election. The findings have far reaching implications for our understanding of the use of on-line campaigning for linking candidates and the electorate during election campaigns and for revitalizing democracy more generally.