Current projects

Personal, private, emotional?
How political parties use personalization strategies on Facebook in the 2014 and 2019 EP election campaigns

Rußmann, Uta, Klinger, Ulrike, Koc-Michalska, Karolina

We study the use of personalization, lead candidates, celebrities and private content as well as positive and negative emotions on Facebook by political parties across 12 countries during the 2014 and 2019 EP campaigns. A standardized quantitative content analysis of 14,293 posts from 111 (2014) and 116 (2019) political parties shows that about half of the Facebook posts are personalized, but there is no general trend of rising personalization. 

Where do Women Win Primaries? Candidate Gender, District Partisanship, and Congressional Nomination

Cowburn, Mike & Meredith Conroy

We explore the geography of where women are able to earn the nomination for congress, showing that though female candidates are highly strategic in selecting where to run, a combination of sexist attitudes (Republicans) and gendered perceptions of ‘electability’ (Democrats) negatively impact women during the nomination phase of the election cycle.

Fragmentation in Your Feed?
What citizens saw on Facebook in the 2021 German election campaigns

Klinger, Ulrike, Borucki, Isabelle & Gruber, Johannes

What do voters see on social media in the week before an election? Based on data gathered through data donations in the week leading to the 2021 German national elections (N=223,632 posts from 311 donors), we conclude that Facebook feeds are clearly algorithmically individualized, but not fragmented , and that negative campaigning and disinformation may be influential for individual citizens, but not on a mass scale.

Who Decides? Media, Maga, Money, and Mentions in the 2022 Republican Primaries

Blum, Rachel M., Seth Masket & Mike Cowburn. 

We consider what matters when different signals are sent during a primary, demonstrating that, to different extents Fox News appearances, Trump’s endorsement, campaign finance, and social media activity were all positively associated with vote share in the 2022 Republican primaries. We further show that Trump disproportionately endorsed candidates who were already ahead of their field. Despite this, Trump’s endorsement was positively associated with improved polling performance and share of financial support.

Partisan Communication in Two-Stage Elections: The Effect of Primaries on Intra-Campaign Positional Shifts in Congressional Elections

Cowburn, Mike & Marius Sältzer.

This paper demonstrates that Democratic candidates for Congress communicated artificial positions during their primary elections in 2020, potentially uncovering another way in which primary elections contribute to partisan polarization. Republican candidates adopt artificial positioning in this way.


We are co-organizing a conference with colleagues from Central and Eastern Europe, January 8-9, 2024 in Katowice, Poland