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Canadian Politics

A05(b) - Canadian Political Communications

Date: Jun 4 | Time: 01:30pm to 03:00pm | Location: SWING 406

Chair/Président/Présidente : Katherine Sullivan (Université de Montréal)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Tamara Small (University of Guelph)

Newspaper Endorsements, News Consumption, and Vote Choice: The Case of the 2015 Canadian Federal Election: Michael Wigginton (University of Ottawa)
Abstract: In the final days leading up to elections, many major newspapers in Canada and around the world depart from the principle of media neutrality and openly support a particular political party. Are a newspapers’ readers more likely to vote for the party it endorses? Which newspaper readers are most likely to vote in-line with the endorsement? In this paper, I address these questions using a survey of over 2000 voters in the 2015 Canadian federal election conducted by Making Electoral Democracy Work. I find newspaper readers to be significantly more likely to vote for an endorsed party, with Toronto Star readers in particular being almost 50% more likely to vote for the Liberal Party. I further find this likelihood to vary with demographics and media consumption, with readers who regularly consult no other news source the most likely to vote for the endorsed party. With a continuing trend of consolidation within Canada’s newspaper chains and news media in general, these findings have important policy implications.


Gender, Ethnicity, and the Traditional Media: The News Coverage of the 2018 Québec Election: Joanie Bouchard (Université Laval), Dominic Duval (University of California, Davis)
Abstract: In this article we investigate the representativeness of the news coverage during the 2018 Québec Election. We are interested in the magnitude of the coverage (that is the volume of press coverage received by each candidate), but also by its tone (if said coverage is negative or positive) and whether these parameters fluctuate based on the sociodemographic characteristics of the candidates. Our two main factors of interest are their gender and ethnicity. We know that the quality of the news coverage, and more specifically its tone, can affect voting intentions (e.g. Soroka et al., 2009). We also know that journalists routinely portray politics as a masculine activity (e.g. Lemarier-Saulnier, 2018) involving mostly white individuals (e.g. Tolley, 2016). And yet we know very little about the coverage of candidates associated with marginalized social groups by Québec media. Relying on automated content analysis, we analyze the tone and volume of the news coverage received by every candidate from August 23rd to October 1st. Our analysis encompasses every newspaper articles published in French during the 2018 campaign.


Partisan Campaign Literature and Constituency-Level Message Consistency in the 2015 Canadian Federal Election: Jacob Robbins-Kanter: Jacob Robbins-Kanter (Queen's University)
Abstract: During federal election campaigns, Canadian political parties demand message consistency from their candidates, yet candidates are simultaneously incentivized to cater to local and sectional interests. At the riding level, party brands are displayed through campaign literature, but there is considerable room for variation in the design and content of a party’s promotional material from riding to riding. This paper assesses the extent to which partisan campaign literature varied across ridings in the 2015 election. It draws on a sample of 140 pieces of campaign literature from 27 ridings in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta. The paper evaluates brand consistency based on four dimensions: issue focus, leader presence, party slogan, and design consistency. Issue focus ascertains whether the campaign material concentrates on national, regional, or local issues. Leader presence assesses whether the material mentions or depicts the party’s leader. The presence or absence of the party’s national slogan is also recorded, in addition to whether the design of the promotional material is consistent with the national campaign’s aesthetic including the centrally-chosen font and colours. The paper hypothesizes that French-language materials feature greater deviation from the national brand than English-language materials, and that the Conservative and New Democratic parties display greater brand homogeneity than the Liberal Party. Findings are contextualized in terms of the importance and extent of centralized management during Canadian election campaigns.