New Paper Out: Why Do Candidates Use Online Media in Constituency Campaigning?

Campaigners are increasingly citing the Web as an important election tool for candidates and parties to communicate with voters; however, to what extent is this rhetoric matched to reality? Evidence suggests there is something of a gap in the importance attributed to the medium and the extent to which it is actually adopted. Most studies of the drivers of Web campaigning to date have focused on the environmental factors and personal resources that determine individuals’ use of the medium. We argue here that such models miss a key layer of explanation in accounting for web uptake by politicians—that of individual attitudes and subjective assessments of the value of the Internet as a campaign tool. More specifically, by applying the Theory of Planned Behavior, we account for patterns of Web campaign activity among candidates in a German state level election. We test our model on survey data and an independent audit of Web use by candidates. Our findings confirm that there is a large discrepancy between the intention to use Web campaigning and actual adoption. Furthermore, the theory is confirmed as a useful explanatory of the Web campaigning that does occur, although the individual components of the theory vary in importance. The paper is part of the Special Issue 'Chasing the Digital Wave: International Perspectives on the Growth of Online Campaigning'

Marcinkowski, F./ Metag, J. (2014): Why Do Candidates Use Online Media in Constituency Campaigning? An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior. Journal of Information Technology & Politics 11(2), 151-168. DOI:10.1080/19331681.2014.895690