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The Media, Voter Fraud, and the 2012 Elections


  • Brian Fogarty

    () (School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow)

  • David Kimball

    () (Department of Political Science, University of Missouri-St. Louis)

  • Lea Kosnik

    () (Department of Economics, University of Missouri-St. Louis)


Debate over the existence and impact of voter fraud continues unabated in American politics. Despite minimal evidence of fraud cases and non-existent effects on election outcomes, Americans continue to believe voter fraud is rampant. In this paper, we examine a potential source of this disconnect – the U.S. news media. How the media cover voter fraud likely affects citizens’ beliefs and opinions on the subject. However, little research exists exploring voter fraud coverage. In this paper, we examine the patterns and themes of voter fraud coverage in local newspapers for each of the 50 states during the 2012 elections. Amongst the results, we show that ‘voter photo identification’ was a dominate topic in coverage. Further, presidential campaign spending and states that recently passed restrictive voting laws affected the language and which topics related to voter fraud received the most attention. Finally, we find that the number of fraud cases was unrelated to voter fraud news coverage. From an agenda setting standpoint, our results suggest Republicans may have been successful in making voter identification a salient issue during the 2012 elections.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Fogarty & David Kimball & Lea Kosnik, 2016. "The Media, Voter Fraud, and the 2012 Elections," Working Papers 1012, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:msl:workng:1012

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    media; politics; voting; voter; election; text analysis; content analysis.;

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General

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