Political Communication Workshops


The Political Communication Workshop is intended to draw together students and faculty working in political communication and political psychology at the University of Michigan. The workshop takes the form of several invited guest lectures, working on topics of broad interest in political communication.

Organizer:  Stuart Soroka
For additional information, please contact Stuart at: ssoroka@umich.edu.

Location:  ISR, Room 6050

Time:  Fridays, *please check event listing for time

Upcoming Workshops

Check back for upcoming workshops

Past Workshops

News and Democracy in the Era of Trump

February 10, 2017: Regina Lawrence (Oregon)

Less than Meets the Eye? The Effects of Casualty News on Domestic Support for America's Wars

October 14, 2016: Scott Althaus

Democratic Accountability for Some

October 2, 2015: Kevin Arcenaux

Abstract  
Theories of democratic accountability acknowledge that people are different. Nonetheless, these same models often presume that people respond to the political environment in the same way. Recent research establishes that stable individual-level differences in psychological motivations cause people to respond to the political environment in different ways. Professor Arceneaux discusses ongoing research with his collaborator, Ryan Vander Wielen, which investigates how individual differences in information processing influence the role of partisanship in American politics and shape the contours of democratic accountability.

Campaigning Online: Web Display Ads in the 2012 Presidential Campaign

November 20, 2015: Sunshine Hillygus

Abstract  
Although much of what we know about political advertising comes from the study of television advertising alone, online advertising is an increasingly prominent part of political campaigning. Research on other online political communication—especially candidate websites, blogs, and social media—tends to conclude that these communications are primarily aimed at turning existing supporters into campaign donors, activists, and volunteers. Is a similar communication strategy found in online display ads—the ads seen adjacent to website content? We examine 840 unique online display ads from the 2012 presidential campaign to explore the nature, content, and targets of online display advertising. We show that the policy content, tone, ad location, and interactive elements of the ads varied based on the audience, with persuasive appeals aimed at undecided or persuadable voters and engagement appeals aimed at existing supporters. Comparing ad content across candidates also finds that each side focused on those issues for which the candidate had a strategic advantage. As a consequence, we find little issue engagement in online advertising, in contrast to the conclusions of previous research on television advertising.

No Need to Watch: How the Effects of Partisan Media Can Spread via Inter-Personal Discussions

January 22, 2016: Jamie Druckman

Abstract  
Over the last quarter-century, the political news landscape has transformed. One notable change has been the rise of partisan media sources. How do partisan media sources influence public opinion? We address this question by exploring not only how partisan media directly influence individuals’ attitudes, but also how interpersonal discussions shape the impact of partisan media. We present experimental results showing that, depending on the nature of the discussion group, conversations can nullify or amplify partisan media effects. Perhaps more importantly, we also find that those who are not directly exposed to partisan media are still susceptible to its effects. This occurs via a two-stage process such that exposed individuals influence those who have not been previously exposed. We conclude with a discussion of what our results imply about the study of media effects and partisan polarization.

Do Campaigns Matter? Stability, Competition, & Counterfactuals

January 16, 2015: Lynn Vavreck, UCLA

Abstract  

Presidential elections are like a game of tug-of-war. Both sides are pulling very hard. If, for some reason, one side let go—meaning they stopped campaigning—then the other side would soon benefit. But of course the candidates do not let go and that makes it hard to see that their efforts are making a difference. That the polls are not moving may seem to suggest that the two campaigns are ineffective. I have argued that it means they are equally effective. The stability and competition inherent in presidential campaigns makes it hard to uncover effects from candidates' efforts, but creative research designs that focus on providing productive counterfactuals can help researchers tell important and accessible stories about political attitudes and behavior. In this talk, I will highlight the challenges of finding campaign effects in highly competitive contests and talk about some projects that have tried to provide unique design-based solutions to these challenges.

Fear and Loathing in Party Politics

November 14, 2014: Shanto Iyengar, Stanford