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Javnost - The Public, Vol. 19 - 2012, No. 4

Contest Framing and Its Effects on Voter (De)Mobilisation: News Exposure and Its Impact on Voting Turnout in the 2008 Austrian Elections

, , pages: 73-92

This article investigates the impact of news exposure on voting turnout in the 2008 Austrian elections by specifically focusing on horse race, conflict and drama levels to capture the nature and effects of contest framing in the campaign coverage. This study rests on the analytical linkage of extensive content analyses of newspaper and TV news coverage and a representative post election survey comprising the Austrian electorate. This investigation first contrasts the magnitude of contest framing in tabloid and quality news and then applies logistic regression analyses, outlining its (de)mobilisation effects on voters to answer the guiding questions: To what extent is the election campaign portrayed as a contest and how does this affect the (de)mobilisation of the electorate? Thereby, we contrast the effects of sheer news exposure with the impact of exposure levels regarding contest framing by the media to learn what is more eff ective. The findings firstly show that tabloid news is more contest-oriented in their reporting than quality news. Secondly, dissonant to our expectations, we find that whereas general news exposure holds no mobilising power regarding the Austrian electorate, horse race framing by the media even shows a reversed mobilisation effect by turning voters off .

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