Campaign Dynamics 2005. Mobilizing and Persuading Effects of Television News on Voters during the 2005 German General Election Campaign
The project aimed at a comprehensive analysis of campaign effects on electoral behaviour in Germany. For the 2005 German general election it was studied if and how TV news coverage of the election campaign had an influence on voters' perceptions, attitudes and behaviour and whether it thereby affected election results. The project focused on both turnout and party choice. In order to study the dynamic effects of campaign coverage, the dataset of a nationally representative rolling cross-section survey with interviews of voters collected on a daily basis during the campaign (which had been conducted during a preceding project phase) was combined with a content analysis of the four major TV channels' main evening newscasts coverage during the same period of time. With this integrated dataset, it was possible to link media content directly to corresponding orientations of voters. This "linkage" strategy of research promised more valid results than an analysis based only on survey data, following the so-called “attentiveness” approach. The project provided detailed insight into the dynamic effects of TV coverage on voters’ attitudes on parties, candidates and issues (political persuasion) and voters’ involvement in the political process (political mobilization). Most important results: Most of the project was devoted to conducting the content analysis of TV news coverage in the run-up to the German Federal Election 2005. Preliminary analyses of the combined content and survey data suggest that the visibility of parties and candidates as well as the tone were important attributes of news coverage, exerting mobilizing (resp. demobilizing) effects and was also consequential for voters' party choices.