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Title page for ETD etd-06132017-114304

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Archer, Allison Michelle N.
URN etd-06132017-114304
Title Does a Loss or a Win Affect Who Tunes In? Political Advantage, Disadvantage, and Media Consumption
Degree PhD
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Cindy D. Kam Committee Co-Chair
Joshua D. Clinton Committee Co-Chair
Jennifer Jerit Committee Member
John G. Geer Committee Member
  • news demand
  • elections
  • partisan news
Date of Defense 2017-06-07
Availability unrestricted
In this dissertation, I argue that the political environment can meaningfully influence media demand. Studying the determinants of news consumption is critical because these processes affect the knowledge on which democratic citizens base their political thinking, decision-making, and even their efforts to hold elected officials accountable. I primarily focus on the effects of political advantage and disadvantage in electoral contexts; that is, I examine how the prospect of a win or a loss, as well as an outright victory or defeat, affects news demand. In doing so, I draw on aggregate-level data containing local partisan newspapers’ circulations over nearly a century and individual-level data consisting of two original experimental studies and observational surveys from the 2016 U.S. presidential election. I largely find evidence that electoral advantage depresses information seeking relative to electoral disadvantage, which can be a powerful stimulant for news demand. I also find distinct effects for disadvantage associated more with the emotion of anger versus anxiety, and in the context of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, I find that extreme levels of disadvantage may promote hopelessness and disengagement with politics.

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