Annenberg doctoral student Ken Winneg was an invited participant recently in the program “The Internet and Democracy: Lessons Learnt and Future Directions,” sponsored by the Oxford Internet Institute (Oxford University), the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (Oxford Univesity). He presented research findings from the 2008 National Annenberg Election Survey in a talk entitled “Political Participation During the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election: Predictors of Online and Offline Participation and Evidence of Mobilization and Reinforcement.”
Abstract: It is the conventional wisdom that the Internet played a significant role in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, generally, and specifically in helping to elect Barack Obama. As part of the process of political engagement and participation, one could undertake a variety of online and more traditional offline participation activities. Prior research (Verba et al., 1996) shows that those who participate in the process have been the more advantaged in society—better educated, higher income, and white. However, others argue that as Internet use increases among the voting age population, the barriers to participation for the less advantaged diminish and, as a result, the society becomes more democratized (Weare, 2002; DiGennaro and Dutton, 2006). In this presentation, a segment of the data conducted by the 2008 National Annenberg Election Survey during the general election period is used to describe the demographic and behavioral predictors of participation, in general, and online and offline, specifically. Further, the presentation will show evidence of mobilization of less advantaged citizens as a result of the Internet, using the same data.