RES: Volatility and Salience in New Political Media

Delivered a session at a meeting of US State political leaders on the Effect of Social Media on Political Campaigns. Programme link: NCSL Symposium for US Legislative Leaders.  Answered many questions and enjoyed a lively debate in a session that lasted over an hour.

My argument in one sentence is that the relevance of new media is contingent on the volatility of a campaign and the salience of a particular message to the electorate.  In other words, political campaigns have not changed.  The new media have just made them more volatile.

One of the cases I demonstrated was Twitter data collected by Juergen Pfeffer on the Wendy Davies filibuster.


Detected from the geotags of tweets are three clusters of messages:  one with references to other US states and two with clusters of different types of ‘social movement’ rhetoric.


So, while location still matters in politics, “globalising” a local debate may impact the final outcome of a political decision.   Although people engage primarily with local issues, a polarising message of high political salience can engage a much wider audience and achieve a “global” political platform for its bearer.  This could ultimately leverage their political capital and their impact on the political debate.

An alternative to mapping re-tweets is semantic and sentiment analysis of online data to explore trends in political discourse.  Of note is the team led by Arno Scharl,  employing the weblyzard  technological platform.


2 thoughts on “RES: Volatility and Salience in New Political Media

  1. Pingback: Scottish Referendum: Contest Volatility and Political Prediction | Politics & Networks

  2. Pingback: Your friends are more interesting than you, on average… | Politics & Networks

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