Equalization or normalization? Voter–candidate engagement on Twitter in the 2010 U.S. midterm elections

Jung Hwan Yang, Young Mie Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study assesses the engagement between voters and political candidates on Twitter and examines its relationship with offline electoral factors such as campaign finances and election outcomes. An analysis of more than 5 million tweets from 302 candidates and their followers in the 2010 U.S. midterm elections reveals that there are large disparities in voter–candidate engagement across the candidates. The prominent candidates from bigger races have more followers, the candidates who have more followers get more @mentions and retweets, and a small number of prominent candidates dominate the political Twitterverse. Despite this, the findings also suggest that indicators of voter–candidate engagement are not solely determined by candidates’ campaign resources, suggesting the potential power-leveling effects of Twitter. Little evidence, however, supports voter–candidate engagement on Twitter as influential to an election outcome. The implications of the findings for future democracy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-247
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Information Technology and Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017


  • Election campaigns
  • Twitter
  • power law
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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