The writing on the wall: A content analysis of college students' facebook groups for the 2008 presidential election

Juliana Fernandes, Magda Giurcanu, Kevin W. Bowers, Jeffrey C. Neely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study looks at student Facebook groups supporting the 2008 presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, from largest land-grant universities in seven battleground states. The findings of a content analysis of wall posts show that students are using Facebook to facilitate dialog and civic political involvement. In opposition to pro-McCain groups, pro-Obama groups have wider time frame coverage and demonstrate substantively higher site activity. Political discussions related to the political civic process, policy issues, campaign information, candidate issues, and acquisition of campaign products dominate across groups and election seasons. An examination of the content of wall posts based on the four categories of the Michigan Model of voting behavior (partisanship, group affiliation, candidate image, and political/campaign issues) reveals that in the primary season, pro-Obama groups focus mostly on short-term topics (candidate image and campaign issues), whereas pro-McCain groups focus mostly on long-term topics (partisanship and group affiliation). The overall findings of this study suggest that youth online communities actively follow campaigns and post comments that foster the political dialog and civic engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)653-675
Number of pages23
JournalMass Communication and Society
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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