- Who is driving whom
- The media, voters and the bandwagon
- Award date
- 16 February 2017
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
Opinion polls of vote intentions play a prominent role in today’s political campaigns. When positive opinion poll results trigger additional support for a party, this is denoted as a “bandwagon effect”. This dissertation has added a communication science perspective to the study of the bandwagon effect, by evaluating how poll ratings influence party coverage, and how exposure to poll coverage across a campaign influences a voter’s campaign interest, emotions about parties, turnout and vote choice. These questions have been investigated using panel surveys in combination with content analyses of media coverage and poll data relating to the German 2013 general (Bundestag) election campaign and the Dutch 2014 election campaign to the European Parliament. Results show that:
1. Party coverage of a front runner party increases with a decrease in its poll ratings.
2. Exposure to poll coverage increases campaign interest and turnout.
3. Exposure to more favorable poll coverage about a party increases the odds of voting for this party, partly because of the increase in enthusiasm and decrease in anxiety felt about this party.
The effect of polls on election outcomes is found to be a participatory act, resulting from the influence of various actors including pollsters, journalists, and voters themselves. Polls do incite emotions, which in turn influence attitudes towards parties. However, this is more likely an indication that voters are actively responding to campaign information, rather than that they are mindlessly following their herd instinct.
- Please note that the section 'Acknowledgements / Dankwoord' (pp. 183-186) is not included in the thesis downloads.
Thesis (Embargo until 16 February 2019)
Chapter 1: All in the game: Effects of opinion polls on party coverage in the 2013 German election campaign (Embargo until 16 February 2019)
Chapter 2: More interest in interest: Does poll coverage help or hurt efforts to get young voters into the ballot box? (Embargo until 16 February 2019)
Appendix A (Embargo until 16 February 2019)
Appendix B (Embargo until 16 February 2019)
Appendix C (Embargo until 16 February 2019)
Appendix D (Embargo until 16 February 2019)
Appendix E (Embargo until 16 February 2019)
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