Engendering the Issues: The Impact of Opponent Gender on Candidate Issue Emphasis on Social Media
This analysis investigates the effect of opponent gender on Congressional candidates' issue emphasis on social media. Utilizing Facebook and Twitter posts from 106 candidates for the House of Representatives, posted during the two months before election day in 2014 and 2016, I conduct a number of analyses to determine if a change in opponent gender from one election to the next impacts a candidate's attention to women's issues and feminine issues. Women's issues are defined as those issues that directly affect women, such as maternal leave, reproductive healthcare, and equal pay. Feminine issues are defined as those issues that have been stereotypically associated with women, such as education, healthcare, and social welfare. The results indicate that a change in opponent gender only affects candidate issue emphasis in the case of male candidates decreasing their attention to women's issues when changing from a female to male opponent. While the evidence in this study is limited, it could be explained by the non-standardization of campaigns and candidates on social media.