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MEDIA CONTACT: Polly Burks
561-297-2595, pburks@fau.edu

Research by FAU Professor Suggests that Internet Presence Could Predict Winner in 2008 Election

BOCA RATON (July 25, 2007) – Recent research by a Florida Atlantic University professor shows that a candidate’s presence on the internet could be a significant predictor of their success in elections.   Kevin Wagner, assistant professor of political science at FAU, used election data from the  2006 midterm congressional elections and webpage ranking data from the leading web-based ranking service to assess the effectiveness of Internet campaigning. The findings, which were presented at the Midwest Political Science Association annual meeting, indicate that web presence was an important predictor of electoral success.

To test the effect of online campaigning, a compilation of   turnout results, a web presence indicator, and a host of controls from 86 separate races in the 2006 congressional elections (106 House candidates and 67 Senate candidates) were used.   Web presence is a significant predictor of vote share even when controlling for the other variables in the model such as campaign monies and incumbency.

                For every one unit increase in web presence, the model estimates that vote share increases by roughly 2 percent.

“Our research suggests that potential candidates need to be particularly concerned about the success of their websites and their popularity within the Internet community when running for office,” said Wagner.    “The Internet, YouTube and other online sources are changing not just how we campaign but the results themselves.”

Wagner’s research explores the implications of the growing use of the Internet to campaign and win elections in the United States. For further information on Wagner’s research, contact kwagne15@fau.edu or call 561-252-1794.

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