Just Published! (Positive and Negative) E-campaigning on Twitter in the 2013 Italian election


E-campaigning on Twitter: The effectiveness of distributive promises and negative campaign in the 2013 Italian election

New Media & Society (Journal IF: 2.052)

Co-author: Giovanna d’Adda

Replication material: andreaceron.com/publications

Acknowledgments: Voices from the Blogs; Alessandra Cremonesi; University of Birmingham

What is worth remembering:

  • Analysis of Twitter useful to investigate electoral campaign effects
  • Voting intentions on Twitter react to real events of the campaign
  • Negative campaign effective against rival adjacent parties
  • Negative campaign more effective when the attacker is under attack (voters close ranks!)
  • Negative campaign = more votes for PD (+1.31%) rather than PDL (+0.22%)
  • Distributive promises effective only when properly targeted
  • Distributive promises = more votes for Berlusconi’s PDL (+0.12%) but less for PD (-0.42%)
  • More “Spread” = more votes for Grillo’s M5S (+0.37%) and less for PD (-0.52%)


Recent studies investigated the effect of e-campaigning on the electoral performance. However, little attention has been paid to the content of e-campaigning. Given that political parties broadcast minute-by-minute the campaign messages on social media, this comprehensive and unmediated information can be useful to evaluate the impact of different electoral strategies. Accordingly, this article examines the electoral campaign for the 2013 Italian general election to assess the effectiveness of positive and negative campaigning messages, measured through content analysis of information published on the official Twitter accounts of Italian parties. We evaluate their impact on the share of unsolicited voting intentions expressed on Twitter, measured through an innovative technique of sentiment analysis. Our results show that negative campaign has positive effects and its impact is stronger when the attacker is meanwhile under attack. Conversely, we only find a circumstantial effect of positive campaign related to clientelistic and distributive appeals.