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Tune in, Turn on, Drop Out? Political Blogs and Cognitive Dissonance

Jeffrey Karp
Brunel University
Jeffrey Karp
Brunel University
Lindsay Stringfellow
University of Exeter
Open Panel

Abstract

Political blogs have the potential to help facilitate deliberation by providing readers with relatively easy access to information produced by non elites. This may provide readers with a broader range of unfiltered discourse than more traditional media which follows more established models of political discourse. When confronted with such information, readers may be more likely to embrace alternative views that challenge existing predispositions (Taber and Lodge 2006). Empirical evidence on blog readership suggests, however, that blog readers gravitate to blogs that reinforce their existing viewpoints creating little opportunity for a substantive exchange across partisan or ideological lines creating webs of cognitive consonance (Lawrence, Sides and Farrell 2010). We examine the question of whether exposure to blogs helps to reinforce or challenge existing predispositions by relying on data from the Comparative Campaign Analysis Project (CCAP) project. The CCAP consists of a six wave panel of 20,000 respondents conducted during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. These unique data cover the period from the early stages of the presidential campaign through to the general election, allowing one to explore how exposure to blogs changes opinions on issues and candidates.