State Parties 2.0


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Online social networking sites are rapidly becoming a central component of the modern political campaign. We build a theoretical framework to explain how and why state party organizations are incorporating social networking sites - Facebook in particular - into their strategy to support their candidates. After offering some descriptive evidence documenting this outreach effort, we estimate a series of models to explain both some factors that contributed to the effectiveness of state parties’ efforts to reach the public through Facebook in the 2010 state elections and how well the efforts complemented their larger effort to gain seats in their respective state legislatures. The results indicate, first, that Republicans seemed to do a better job of reaching the public through Facebook, that active use of Facebook by both parties attracted potential voters to their profiles, and that increased party expenditures also attracted people. Second, the results indicate that a growing Facebook following across the course of the election provided a larger electoral benefit for Democrats than Republicans. We offer some theoretical speculation to account for this inherent paradox.