Online election campaigning: Exploring supply and demand during the France 2012 presidential election
Authors: Lilleker, D.G. and Koc-Michalska, K.
Studies of online campaigning tend to focus on the supply side: the way political parties communicate and campaign using the Internet. This chapter explores the online presences of the main candidates and their parties who stood in the 2012 French presidential election. The research focuses not only on the supply side but also explores demand, utilising data from the Mediapolis survey to ascertain what citizens search for online and in particular what citizens seeking help with their voter decisions seek online. The data shows that citizens are provided with a rich online experience during election campaigns. Information is presented in engaging ways and candidates attempt to mobilise their supporters and offer various opportunities to interact with the campaign and other Website visitors. Interaction is augmented in particular by the use of social networking sites. Citizens, however, appear to mostly go online to find detailed information on the policies and programmes of the candidates. There appears little call for engaging communication, interactive opportunities, or details on the personal lives or personalities of the candidates. The data may, therefore, suggest that information may need to be packaged for accessibility and presented in a way that allows voters to make up their own minds, rather than following the norms of corporate sales campaign Websites.