- Reversed mobilization in referendum campaigns: How positive news framing can mobilize the skeptics
- The International Journal of Press/Politics
- Volume | Issue number
- 14 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
This multimethodological study focuses on risk-induced electoral mobilization in referendum campaigns. Positive news framing in a referendum campaign can generate a perception of risk among those voters opposing the proposal and stimulate electoral participation to prevent an undesired outcome that would alter a status quo situation. To test this claim, the authors analyze the effect of news framing on turnout in the context of the 2005 Dutch EU Constitution referendum campaign and combine a media content analysis of national newspapers and television news (n = 6,370) with panel survey data (n = 642) and an experiment (n = 687). Experimental findings show that individuals who are skeptical toward the EU and are subsequently exposed to positive news framing about the EU Constitution are mobilized to turn out and vote against it. The results of the content analysis show that during the Dutch referendum campaign, news media framed the EU Constitution in positive terms. Building these findings into a measure of news exposure in our panel survey, the authors find that higher exposure to referendum news had a mobilizing effect on those opposing the proposal. The experimental and panel data thus show corroborating evidence supporting the central hypothesis about how positive news can mobilize the skeptics to turn out and vote in a referendum.
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