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Politics in the Facebook Era Evidence from the 2016 US Presidential Elections

Author

Listed:
  • Liberini, Federica

    (ETH Zurich, Department of Economics)

  • Redoano, Michela

    (University of Warwick, Department of Economics)

  • Russo, Antonio

    (ETH Zurich,Department of Economics)

  • Cuevas, Angel

    (University Carlos III, Department of Telematic Engeneering)

  • Cuevas, Ruben

    (University Carlos III, Department of Telematic Engeneering)

Abstract

Social media enable politicians to personalize their campaigns and target voters who may be decisive for the outcome of elections. We assess the effects of such political "micro-targeting" by exploiting variation in daily advertising prices on Facebook, collected during the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. We analyze the variation of prices across political ideologies and propose a measure for the intensity of online political campaigns. Combining this measure with information from the ANES electoral survey, we address two fundamental questions: (i) To what extent did political campaigns use social media to micro-target voters? (ii) How large was the effect, if any, on voters who were heavily exposed to campaigning on social media? We find that online political campaigns targeted on users' gender, geographic location, and political ideology had a signi cant e ect in persuading undecided voters to support Mr Trump, and in persuading Republican supporters to turn out on polling day. Moreover the effect of micro-targeting on Facebook was strongest among users without university or college-level education.

Suggested Citation

  • Liberini, Federica & Redoano, Michela & Russo, Antonio & Cuevas, Angel & Cuevas, Ruben, 2018. "Politics in the Facebook Era Evidence from the 2016 US Presidential Elections," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1181, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:1181
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Oliver Falck & Robert Gold & Stephan Heblich, 2014. "E-lections: Voting Behavior and the Internet," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2238-2265, July.
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    3. Gerber, Alan S. & Gimpel, James G. & Green, Donald P. & Shaw, Daron R., 2011. "How Large and Long-lasting Are the Persuasive Effects of Televised Campaign Ads? Results from a Randomized Field Experiment," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 135-150, February.
    4. Levi Boxell & Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2017. "Is the Internet Causing Political Polarization? Evidence from Demographics," NBER Working Papers 23258, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Petrova, Maria & Sen, Ananya & Yildirim, Pinar, 2017. "Social Media and Political Donations: New Technology and Incumbency Advantage in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 11808, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anna Kerkhof & Johannes Münster, 2021. "Detecting Coverage Bias in User-Generated Content," CESifo Working Paper Series 8844, CESifo.
    2. van Gils, Freek & Müller, Wieland & Prüfer, Jens, 2020. "Big Data and Democracy," Other publications TiSEM ecc11d8d-1478-4dd2-b570-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    3. Anna Kerkhof & Johannes Münster, 2021. "Detecting coverage bias in user-generated content," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 057, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    4. Giacomo De Luca & Thilo R. Huning & Paulo Santos Monteiro, 2021. "Britain has had enough of experts? Social networks and the Brexit referendum," Discussion Papers 21/01, Department of Economics, University of York.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • M37 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Advertising
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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