The impact of television on voting participation*

images (4)Media is one of the most common channels of communication between parties and voters as they allow parties to reach wide audiences, including less partisan voters. According to mobilization theory, easier access to large amounts of political information through TV helps to politically mobilize citizens, both cognitively and behaviorally. More politically informed citizens are more likely to be interested in the matters of politics, and then more likely to vote.

Underlying mechanisms influencing turnout

  1. When it comes to vote choice, media can fulfill several roles;
  2. they can strengthen one’s preferences (reinforcement)
  3. point out salient issues (agenda-setting)
  4. shape parties’ images and voting preferences (persuasion)
  5.  Urge people to go vote or to vote for a specific party (mobilization)
  1. The impact of TV:
  2.  Giving people a better understanding of politics
  3. Heightening their subjective efficacy and therefore mobilizing them politically.
  4.  Direct effects by continually reminding people to vote through exhortations in spot announcements and in speeches.
  5. Raising interest by graphic representationof the news and by creating a close contact between a candidate and a viewer. As TV presents the viewer face-to-face with messengers and persuaders, one might think that it is particularly effective.
  6. TV reminders are recalled more often because they are encountered more often. Recollection of a reminder is associated with higher turnout.
  7. News, as well as televised ads might also stimulate turnout directly by encouragingvoters to take an interest in the campaign and to acquire voting preferences. Greater coverage of a campaign can signal voters that the outcome of an election is important.
  8. Increased coverage reduces uncertainty about choices and gives voters greater confidence in choice.
  9. Campaign ads aired through TV inform people exposed to them about the candidates and their messages, and partially as the result of this enhanced knowledge, increase their interest in the election and their sense of the stakes involved. These increased levels of information and interest lead to higher levels of participation on Election Day.


(* Part of own Msc Thesis under the title “The impact of television news exposure and political talk on voter turnout“, June 2012)


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