Effects of Campaign-to-User and Text-Based Interactivity in Political Candidate Campaign Web sites

Authors

  • Barbara Warnick,

    Corresponding author
    1. Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Her research considers the rhetorical dimensions of online public discourse in political campaigns, social protests, website memorials, and issue-based arguments in the public sphere. Her recent work has been published in Critical Studies in Media Communication, Electronic Journal of Communication, and Western Journal of Communication.
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  • Michael Xenos,

    Corresponding author
    1. A Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. His research interests include public deliberation and the impact of the Internet on electoral politics, and his recent publications are in the Journal of Communication, Political Analysis, and Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.
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  • Danielle Endres,

    Corresponding author
    1. A Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on Native American public address, social activist rhetoric, and campaign discourse in web-based environments. Her recent work has been published in Western Journal of Communication.
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  • John Gastil

    Corresponding author
    1. An Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington, where he studies and teaches courses on political deliberation and group decision making. He is the author of By Popular Demand: Revitalizing Representative Democracy through Deliberative Elections (University of California, 2000), Democracy in Small Groups (New Society Publishers, 1993), and the Election Day computer simulation game (http://www.election-day.info).
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Address: Department of Communication, Box 353740, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 USA

Address: Center for Communication and Civic Engagement, Department of Communication, Box 353740, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 USA

Address: Department of Communication, Box 353740, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 USA

Address: Department of Communication, Box 353740, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 USA

Abstract

This study examined the effects on users of two forms of interactivity commonly found on political candidate campaign Web sites in the 2002 U.S. House election cycle. The first form, campaign-to-user interactivity, focuses on features or mechanisms used to enable or facilitate communication between site users and the campaign. The second form, text-based interactivity, focuses on how site content is verbally and visually expressed. Study participants viewed one of four versions of either a Democratic or Republican campaign website. Both text-based and campaign-to-user interactivity increased the amount of time users spent on the site and their accurate recall of candidates' issue stances. The co-occurrence of both forms of interactivity, however, showed a noticeably lower level of issue recall, confirming earlier findings that too much interactivity can interfere with user recall of site content.

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