Based on unique survey data collected as part of a large comparative project funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, Dr Vaccari found that citizens who receive messages via email or social media inviting them to vote for a party or candidate are substantially more likely to engage in a variety of political activities besides voting, even after controlling for most known covariates of political participation and even after pre-processing the data to take into account self-selection biases in who receives online mobilization messages, and recalls receiving them.
The full abstract of the article, available here, reads as follows:
This study analyzes the relationship between online voter mobilization and political engagement in Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom during the 2014 European election campaign. Internet surveys of samples representatives of these countries’ populations with Internet access show that respondents who received an invitation to vote for a party or candidate via e-mail or social media engaged in a significantly higher number of political activities than those who did not. Moreover, the relationship between mobilization and engagement was stronger among those who followed the campaign less attentively, as well as in countries where overall levels of engagement with the campaign were lower (Germany and the United Kingdom) than where they were higher (Italy). These findings indicate that online mobilization may contribute to closing gaps in political engagement at both individual and aggregate levels, and thus suggest that digital media may contribute to reviving democratic citizenship.
The article is part of a special issue on "Digital Politics: Mobilization, Engagement, and Participation", co-edited by Karolina Koc-Michalska and Darren Lilleker.