Does cyber campaigning win votes? Online communication in the 2004 Australian election

23 Sep 2005

Studies of web use during elections have focused mainly on the content of websites and the major factors driving parties and candidates' adoption of the technology. Evaluation of the electoral impact of web campaigns have been more limited. This study addresses this question using the 2001 Australian Candidate Study. After investigating the factors determining personal internet use and public web campaigning among candidates, we examine the impact of web campaigning on levels of electoral support, compared with other more traditional forms of campaigning, such as direct mail and canvassing.

Rachel Gibson from the ACSPRI Centre for Social Research and Ian McAllister frm the Political Science Program show that web campaigning is associated primarily with the political attitudes and outlook of candidates (being left-wing and young) rather than the amount of campaign resources available. More significantly, they show that despite being linked with traditional campaigning techniques, web campaigning has an independent and significant impact on the level of electoral support that a candidate receives. They conclude that web campaigning, at least under present electoral conditions, constitutes an important component of a winning election strategy.

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