SAGE Journal Articles
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Abstract: This article examines the surprising outcome of the 2016 presidential election, which saw Donald Trump defy nearly all of the conventional wisdom to become the 45th president of the United States. Political commentators and experts offered several immediate postelection explanations for Trump’s victory, one of which focused on how Trump was able to generate considerable unpaid or free media for himself, often directly through Twitter. This article explains the theory and rationale underlying the free media thesis (FMT) and then examines whether there is any preliminary empirical support for it. Using media tracking data and public opinion surveys, the results reveal that Trump indeed dominated the unpaid media market. Although the findings in this article cannot make causal claims about whether Trump’s advantages in free media are the primary reason for his upset victory, the results, nonetheless, suggest that some of the basic conditions necessary for the FMT were present in the 2016 election and that the FMT offers a plausible avenue for further analysis and future research.
Journal Article 2: Groshek, J., & Al-Rawi, A. (2013). Public sentiment and critical framing in social media content during the 2012 U.S. Presidential Campaign. Social Science Computer Review, 31(5), 563–576.
Abstract: By being embedded in everyday life, social networking sites (SNSs) have altered the way campaign politics are understood and engaged with by politicians and citizens alike. However, the actual content of social media has remained a vast but somewhat amorphous and understudied entity. The study reported here examines public sentiment as it was expressed in just over 1.42 million social media units on Facebook and Twitter to provide broad insights into dominant topics and themes that were prevalent in the 2012 U.S. election campaign online. Key findings include the fact that contrary to what one might expect, neither presidential candidate was framed in an overly critical manner in his opponent’s Facebook space nor on Twitter’s dedicated nonpartisan election page. Beyond this, similarities and divergences in sentiment across social media spaces are observed that allow for a better understanding of what is being communicated in political social media.