State of the Parties Conference Looks Closely at Role of Social Media in Elections

Nov 10, 2017

The panel of political scientists was moderated by Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler (left) and included Marquette University's Julia Azari, the University of Denver's Seth Masket and Dave Cohen of the University of Akron.

The University of Akron’s “State of the Parties” conference held a panel today on how political scientists are using social media.

The University of Akron’s Bliss Institute holds the conference every four years, following a presidential election. The closing panel focused a great deal of time on what they’re are – and are not -- able to predict, especially after last year’s election.

Seth Masket is a political scientist at the University of Denver and director of the Center on American Politics. He says that following social media buzz is not as effective as the tried-and-true model of monitoring historic patterns of electoral success.

“Just following social media [and] following news reports can be really helpful for hearing what the candidates are trying to do to reach out to people [and] what sort of messages they’re working on. But generally, if I want to know how people are going to behave, honestly the political science models are still the best way to do it.”

Masket adds that things like the state of the economy and presidential approval ratings have traditionally been key indicators of what happens in mid-term elections, such as the one next year.

The entire Bliss Institute panel with political scientists is available below.