Candidate Evaluations and Social Media Following during the 2020 Presidential Campaign

Kate Kenski, Dam Hee Kim, S. Mo Jones-Jang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between presidential candidate evaluations and following the candidates on five social media (SM) platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. Analyses of national survey data collected during the 2020 presidential campaign (N = 2,120) suggest that following a candidate on SM is positively associated with feelings toward that candidate, even after gender, age, race, education, party identification, and online news media use have been taken into consideration. Specifically, individuals who followed Trump on Facebook, Twitter, and/or YouTube supported him more than did those who did not follow him. Following Biden on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Snapchat was positively associated with his feeling thermometer ratings after demographic variables, party identification, and online news media use were controlled. Moreover, we show that these positive relationships were more pronounced among those who did not identify with one of the major political parties. Following a candidate, however, was not necessarily associated with decreased support for the opposing candidate. Overall, our results highlight the importance of politicians’ use of social media during campaigns and suggest that following candidates on different SM platforms has unique relationships with candidate evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Political Marketing
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • candidate attitudes
  • candidate feeling thermometers
  • Presidential candidate evaluations
  • social media following

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Marketing

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