The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Shoub on How Legislators Communicate

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Elected representatives have more options than ever before for public-facing communications including press releases, e-newsletters, Facebook posts and messages on Twitter. What platforms do they choose? And what difference does their choice make? SPP Professor Kelsey Shoub and coauthors recently published the results of a study in the journal Political Science Research and Methods that examines how elected representatives use public-facing communication to enhance their standing in the eyes of constituents and potential donors.

The researchers used a novel data set that allowed them to compare the four most prevalent forms of written, constituent-facing communication (press releases, e-newsletters, Facebook posts, and Twitter tweets) by members of the US House of Representatives between 2015 and 2021. Their analysis shows that “institutional, legislator, and district characteristics correspond with differential use of mediums.” The study breaks new ground by showing how the relative use patterns of legislators differ across different communication platforms. Their findings show that research using only some mediums and not others might heighten attention to some legislators while dampening the voices of others. 

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