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Political information consumption and electoral turnout during COVID: the case of the 2020 municipal elections

Authors
  • Neihouser, Marie
  • Sandri, Giulia
  • Von Nostitz, Felix
  • Haute, Tristan
Type
Published Article
Journal
French Politics
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Publication Date
Apr 22, 2022
Volume
20
Issue
2
Pages
182–209
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1057/s41253-022-00173-1
PMCID: PMC9028905
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Original Article
License
Unknown

Abstract

The effects on political participation of the consumption of political information from traditional and digital media are widely addressed in the literature. However, what happens in times of pandemic when people have other pressing concerns that are likely to receive significant media coverage? Does the consumption of political information—which increases in times of pandemic—mobilize or rather demobilize voters in local elections? By focusing on the two rounds of the French municipal elections in March and June 2020, we explore how the pandemic affected turnout through the consumption of political information distributed by official news media and users on social media during the first peak of the crisis (March 2020) and during the first period of decline in contagion rates (June 2020). Our results show that the association between consumption of political information and participation is detectable but remains less relevant than traditional predictors of turnout such as socio-demographic variables or an interest in politics. Moreover, we show that the strength of the effect of consumption of political information varies according to both the type of election and the type of political information consumption (local or national news, online or offline). Overall, it seems that the pandemic context had little effect on the relations between political information consumption and electoral participation.

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