Negative Campaigning in German elections: Measurement, Dynamics, and Determinants / NegCamp

Team: Dr. Sebastian Stier, Postdoc-Wissenschaftler*in
Leader: Dr. Sebastian Stier, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Maier (Universität Koblenz-Landau), Dr. Corinna Oschatz (Universität Koblenz-Landau)
Scientific unit: Abteilung Computational Social Science

Abstract

Research on negative campaigning (NC) – i.e., verbal attacks on political opponents – has gained considerable attention in recent years. Studies suggest that NC can have dysfunctional consequences for democracy (e.g., polarization, declining trust in politics). However, the causes and effects of NC have rarely been analyzed outside of the United States. This project investigates the determinants of the use of NC in German election campaigns at the federal and state level. In addition to examining the traditional assumption that NC is the result of rational cost-benefit considerations, we also examine the viability of alternative explanations (e.g., the role of values, attitudes towards NC, personality, image management).

We first use self-reports from candidate surveys to investigate the use and evaluation of NC by candidates. We draw on the candidate studies conducted as part of the German Longitudinal Election Study (GLES) and will survey all candidates of the relevant political parties who will take part in the 2021 Landtag elections. In order to measure the actual use of NC, we collect the entire social media communication of the candidates in the above-mentioned elections and develop machine learning models for the detection of NC at a large scale.

The candidate surveys and social media data will be linked on the level of individual candidates and analyzed using multiple regression analysis. The project makes an essential theoretical and empirical contribution towards a better understanding of the determinants of NC (1) over time, (2) on different federal levels and (3) depending on individual characteristics of politicians.

Runtime

01.01.2021-31.12.2023

Sponsored by

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Partner

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Maier (Universität Koblenz-Landau), Dr. Corinna Oschatz (Universität Koblenz-Landau)