What kind of populism? Tone and targets in the Twitter discourse of French and American presidential candidates

Peter Maurer, Trevor Diehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Insurgent candidates from across the political spectrum are increasingly turning to social media to directly engage the public. Social media offer a platform that favours affect and personality, both key components of populist-style rhetoric, a label that is often attached to politicians outside the political establishment. Despite noteworthy exceptions, few cross-national studies of high-profile candidates’ use of social media exist, and even less is known about how candidates representing various political ideologies employ affect alongside populism. To advance the state-of-the-art, this study examines the sentiment and rhetorical targets of attack in the Twitter feeds (N = 25,825 tweets) of six presidential candidates in the United States and French election campaigns of 2016 and 2017. Employing dictionary-based quantitative analysis, the study finds variation among the candidates’ rhetoric in terms of how they employ populist themes, affect and ideology. The findings suggest that scholars should consider a more nuanced approach to populism in late-modern democracies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-468
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Communication
Volume35
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Keywords

  • Automated content analysis
  • France
  • Twitter
  • US
  • comparative
  • populism
  • populist communication
  • presidential elections

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'What kind of populism? Tone and targets in the Twitter discourse of French and American presidential candidates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this