Tweeting the Attack: Predicting Gubernatorial Candidate Attack Messaging and Its Spread

Jennifer Stromer-Galley, Feifei Zhang, Jeff Hemsley, Sikana Tanupabrungsun


Political campaign scholars have been concerned about the nature and effects of negative messages. Although much research has examined attack advertisements in broadcast media, more research is needed to understand attack messaging on social media. We conducted a content analysis of campaign tweets generated by candidates who ran for governor in 2014 in the United States. We examine the variables that relate to campaign attack message posting and predict its spread. Analysis suggests challengers are more likely to attack, but incumbent-generated messages are more likely to spread. We also found that attack messages are more likely than advocacy messages to be retweeted.


attack messages, political campaigns, retweeting, the negativity effect, Twitter

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