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Don’t Republicans tweet too? Using Twitter to assess the consequences of political endorsements by celebrities

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journal contribution
posted on 12.09.2019, 10:18 by Jan Zilinsky, Cristian VaccariCristian Vaccari, Jonathan Nagler, Joshua A Tucker
Michael Jordan supposedly justified his decision to stay out of politics by noting that Republicans buy sneakers too. In the social media era, the name of the game for celebrities is engagement with fans. So why then do celebrities risk talking about politics on social media, which is likely to antagonize a portion of their fan base? With this question in mind, we analyze approximately 220,000 tweets from 83 celebrities who chose to endorse a presidential candidate in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign to assess whether there is a cost—defined in terms of engagement on Twitter—for celebrities who discuss presidential candidates. We also examine whether celebrities behave similarly to other campaign surrogates in being more likely to take on the “attack dog” role by going negative more often than going positive. More specifically, we document how often celebrities of distinct political preferences tweet about Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, and we show that followers of opinionated celebrities do not withhold engagement when entertainers become politically mobilized and do indeed often go negative. Interestingly, in some cases political content from celebrities actually turns out to be more popular than typical lifestyle tweets.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Published in

Perspectives on Politics

Volume

18

Issue

1

Pages

144 - 160

Publisher

Cambridge University Press (CUP)

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© American Political Science Association 2019

Publisher statement

This article has been published in a revised form in Perspectives on Politics https://doi.org/10.1017/s1537592719002603. This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed. © American Political Science Association.

Publication date

2019-09-06

Copyright date

2019

ISSN

1537-5927

eISSN

1541-0986

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Cristian Vaccari

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