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date: 23 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Dramatic changes in communication technology and the information environment in recent years have changed not only our daily lives, but also campaign communications. With each new election cycle, candidates seem to add to the expanding list of communication technologies used—smartphones, Facebook, blogs, and the like—to get their message to intended recipients. In this essay, we review the limited, but growing, research that examines candidates’ use of niche campaign communications, conceptualized here as any communication medium candidates employ to directly and narrowly target a particular audience. There is a tendency to think of the use of new technologies as a supplemental communication tool for conducting politics as usual. The authors suggest, however, that new communication technologies have changed not only how candidates communicate, but also whom they contact and what they are willing to say. In this way, niche communications have fundamentally changed candidate strategy and campaign dynamics.

Keywords: narrowcasting, microtargeting, campaigns, new media, internet, campaign strategy, direct mail, niche communication, e-mail, Facebook

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