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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 (January 17, 2008) – 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 in 2007, indicate that web presence was an important predictor of electoral success.

To test the effect of online campaigning, Wagner used 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).   The research indicated that web presence is a significant predictor of vote share, even when controlling for 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 two 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 findings will be included in his upcoming book with SUNY Press entitled Click and Reboot: How the Internet is Revolutionizing American Politics.  

Wagner has also done research on Florida’s legislature and will be included in an upcoming book entitled Florida Politics, edited by Ed Burton and published by University of Florida Press.   Wagner’s chapter in the book is entitled “Legislative Politics.”  

For further information on Wagner’s research, contact kwagne15@fau.edu or call 561-297-3218.

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