Valentin T. Z. Berger, Felix Jäger
Do electoral candidates reflect or select campaign issues? The influence of electoral manifestos on online communication

Party Politics, In Press: (publ. online before print)
ISSN: 1354-0688 (print), 1460-3683 (online)

This article investigates the influence of electoral manifestos on the online communication of electoral candidates. Our study addresses electoral candidates’ conflict between party discipline and individual issue prioritisation. Building on the salience framework, we examine the thematic congruence between manifestos and online communication. Moreover, we test which issues are emphasised during the 2017 German federal election campaign. To this end, we created an original topic dictionary based on party manifestos. Applying the dictionary, we classify 143,969 tweets by 797 candidates. Our analyses demonstrate that manifestos shape the online communication of electoral candidates substantially. The findings show that electoral candidates of left–wing parties focus on core issues over time. Our results not only highlight the authority of party leadership, but also suggest that politicians do not tap the whole potential of online communication.