The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Porten-Cheé: Lessons Learned from Obama? The Effect of Individual Use of Party Websites on Voting in the Elections to the European Parliament 2009 in Germany

Paper presenter: 
Porten-Cheé, P., Ilmenau University of Technology, Germany

Barack Obama’s seminal presidential campaign was not the first signal for German parties to use the web more intensively for their communication strategy. Content analyses have shown that German parties make use of online communication to mobilise old and gain new voters differently, in terms of unequal grades of mobilising, informing, interacting or participating features on their party websites. But does the use of those contents have any significant impact on voting? This research question was answered using individual-level data of a representative telephone survey in Germany (n=809). Therefore, the author proposed a multivariate regression model of voting behaviour, which combined widely explored sociological and social psychological factors considering a potential impact of political communication (online) variables – including the visit of party websites. Although voting behaviour was primarily influenced by variables such as party identification and issue- or leftright- orientation, there is some evidence that the visit of party websites could have a positive effect on evaluating the „Bündnis90/Die Grünen“ (Green Party) in relation to political issues. This presents a small indirect positive effect to vote in favour for the
Greens, which could be caused by a higher proportion of mobilising features and attacks on political competitors on their party website. Another reason could be that Green voters visited the website of the party they voted for more often and therefore more selectively than other voters the respective websites.

Pablo Porten-Cheé