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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 18, 2013

The Internet and American Political Campaigns

David Karpf

David Karpf is an Assistant Professor in the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs. He can be reached at dkarpf@gwu.edu.

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From the journal The Forum

Abstract

This article provides an overview of major research findings regarding the Internet and American political campaigns. This is still a nascent subfield, but the research community has come to general agreement on five key points: (1) at the mass behavioral level, the Internet has not changed fundamental participatory inequalities; (2) we have seen an increase in small-donor activity, and these donations tend to flow toward polarizing candidates; (3) for political campaign operations, “mundane mobilization tools” carry the largest impacts; (4) with political campaigns, the new focus on data analytics and the “culture of testing” is substantially changing resource expenditures and work routines; and (5) there is currently a clear partisan divide between how Democrats and Republicans employ digital technology for campaigning. The article also discusses the methodological challenges that separate Internet-related research from many of the more established fields of campaign finance-related research. It concludes by posing a set of research questions for the 2014 and 2016 election cycles which will likely prove fruitful.


Corresponding author: David Karpf, George Washington University, School of Media and Public Affairs, Washington, DC, USA, e-mail:

About the author

David Karpf

David Karpf is an Assistant Professor in the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs. He can be reached at .

  1. 1

    See Skocpol and Williamson (2012) for a discussion of the various overlapping forms of tea party organization.

  2. 2

    See Cohen et al. 2009; Masket 2011.

  3. 3

    This section offers an abridged version of the methodological argument I make in “Social Science Research Methods in Internet Time” (Karpf 2012b).

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Published Online: 2013-10-18
Published in Print: 2013-10-01

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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