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Internet use during the election
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Rachel Gibson
Posted 12/6/2008 10:37 (#46)
Subject: Internet use during the election


Posts: 5

I have conducted voter surveys in Australia as part of the Australian Election Study team. We recently ran questions regarding voters and elites use of new media to participate in politics/campaign and they have proved to yield some very interesting findings (see Gibson and McAllister, 2006 Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties) demonstrating effects of web campaigning. While this may be context specific I think some questions in the voter/candidate studies to tap into internet use during the EP elections by citizens and parties/candidates would be of great use and interest to both elections scholars and those working in the area of political communication. The comparative dimension would be particularly fascinating.

I would like to submit an adapted set of questions we included in the Australian voter study of 2007 in this section of the forum for review by the study organizers and their possible inclusion in the Elections Study. The questions deal with online election news consumption in general and specific sources.

Q. 1. General use of Internet for election news:
How much attention did you pay to reports about the election campaign …And how about the internet—did you follow the election campaign news on the internet? A good deal; Some; Not much; None at all.
Q. 2 During the 2007 election campaign did you visit any of the following websites? (Circle as many as apply.)
Party site (eg, XX)
Your own MEP’s site
Individual candidate site in your electorate (that is, other than that of your MEP)
Other candidate/MPs sites outside your electorate
Federal parliament site
Electoral Commission site
Mainstream news media (e.g. XX)
Video sharing site (i.e. YouTube)
Political weblog or ‘blog’

In addition, it is also useful to have a measure of individuals’ overall internet familiarity and use – as ‘internet skills’ are included in models of online participation as a new type of individual resource that can make a difference to proclivity toward and/or actual participation, particularly among young people.
H.10. In general, how often do you use the internet?
1 Several times a day
2 About once a day
3 Three to five days a week
4 One to two days a week
5 Every few weeks
6 Less often
7 Do not use the internet

H.11. When did you first start using the internet?
1 Within the last six months
2 About a year ago
3 Two or three years ago
4 More than three years ago
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Posted 15/6/2008 21:17 (#73 - in reply to #46)
Subject: RE: Internet use during the election


Posts: 11

These questions need to be considered in combination with the EU Profiler questions that I mentioned in an earlier post. Use of a Voter Advice Application is an additional possibility beyond those that Rachel mentions, and we might want to ask a single question that covered all the different possible uses of the internet, along the lines Rachel suggests.
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Posted 16/7/2008 16:31 (#96 - in reply to #46)
Subject: RE: Internet use during the election

Posts: 26
Location: University of Oxford, UK
Dear Professor Gibson,

Thank you for submitting this proposal to the Open Forum. The PIREDEU Steering Committee met at the end of June to evaluate each of the proposals. We assessed them on the basis of whether they met the following criteria:

* An explicit argument about why the proposed question/coding category merited inclusion in one or more of the PIREDEU data components.

* An explicit argument about the conceptual and theoretical foundations of the question/coding category.

* An explicit case for how the question/coding category facilitates integration and linking of several data components. The PIREDEU Steering Committee preferred proposals that allowed for conceptual integration across the five data components (i.e. voter survey, candidate survey, media study, manifestos and contextual data).

* An explicit consideration of how the proposed question/coding category linked with questions/coding categories in past data collection efforts.

The PIREDEU Steering Committee favoured proposals that ensured over time and across instrument comparability. Moreover, given that the voter and candidate surveys can only contain a limited number of question items, priority was given to proposals with succinct question formats.

On this basis we ranked each question in the proposal as follows:

(1) The proposed item will be included in data collection instrument
(2) High priority proposal that will be included if space and time constraints permit
(3) Proposal can only be included if additional funding is secured
(4) Proposed item is not a priority

The item(s) from your proposal received the following ranking(s):

Instrument: Voter Survey

1. Have you ever been contacted by a candidate or party organisation during an election campaign in any of the following ways?
Ranking: 1
Rationale: This question will be included in the voter survey.

1a. If yes, what was the nature/purpose of the contact? If multiple contacts have been made, please give details for your most recent contact.
1b. Thinking again about that recent contact, can you remember whether the contact was by a particular party or a commercial organization?
1d Overall, do you consider the contact made you:
1e If you were invited to participate a focus group or voter study of some kind what was your response?
1f And if you were contacted by a party/candidate or a professional company/NGO to generate awareness/support for a particular party/candidate what was your response?
Ranking: 4

Rationale: These items were not included because they would take up too much space on the questionnaire. However, the type of contact [telephone, at home, etc.] will be included.

The online campaign series of question items.
Ranking: 4

Rationale: These items were not included because they would take up too much room on the survey. However a question will be included on web use.

Thank you again for your participation in this process. We hope that you will continue to use the Open Forum to comment on the questionnaires/codebook that will be posted online on the Forum in the autumn.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Franklin
Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee

Sara Hobolt
Deputy Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee

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