A Woman's Place: Gender Politics and Twitter in the 2012 Elections
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This dissertation examined how men and women candidates constructed their online self- presentations when running for U.S. Senate in 2012, and how such self-presentations impacted the public's perceptions of the candidates. Specifically, I employed a content analysis to examine how candidates communicated via their campaign Twitter accounts based on their gender and political party affiliation, and the gender and party affiliation of their opponent. As such, I analyzed tweets from 24 candidates running in 12 elections that featured male-versus-female, all- male, and all-female general elections, exploring their levels of interactivity and personalization, as well as their political issue and character trait emphases. Building on this analysis, I then implemented an experiment to examine the effects of personalized versus depersonalized tweets, in which personalized tweets connected campaign content to a personal aspect of the candidate. The experimental design also examined the effects of personalization across a candidate's gender and party affiliation. Overall, I found important differences across gender and political party in how candidates' Twitter communications emphasized my concepts of focus, and how the public evaluates personalized candidates. This work has several implications for our understanding of political communication, digital campaigning, and gender in American politics.
- Communications