The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Social Media’s Influence on the 2024 Presidential Election

Abby Benner

Social media has become a primary method of campaigning, as candidates have shifted away from the traditional ‘shaking hands and kissing babies’ methodology. Its influence has been at the forefront of conversations as we march closer to November and the 2024 Presidential Election.

It will be a rematch of four years ago between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Both have now served one term each and are fighting for a second.

Loyola Communications Professor Dr. Amy Becker specializes in political entertainment and public opinion and discussed why the upcoming election is of utmost importance.

“I think the election is of added importance given recent threats to democracy and increasing distrust of politicians and the media. I think we are seeing a real choice between democratic norms and autocracy around the globe,” Dr. Becker said.

Social media is a more recent method of addressing the public on the campaign trail. It allows candidates to distribute information and campaign as well as serving as a news source for voters.

Pew Research Center analysis of surveys conducted between October 2019 and June 2020 found that 18.8% of U.S. adults get their political news primarily through social media.

But not only has social media become a primary source of news, but it also has impacted the outcome of previous elections.

According to a study done by Princeton University, “Twitter lowered the Republican vote share in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections but had limited effects on Congressional elections and previous presidential elections. Evidence from survey data, primary elections, and text analysis of millions of tweets suggests that Twitter’s relatively liberal content may have persuaded voters with moderate views to vote against Donald Trump.”

With these findings, it is evident that the content candidates put out could potentially make or break one’s presidential hopes.

via instagram @realdonaldtrump

For college students, social media is a way to consume news and information in a timely manner. Jaylynn Lawlah ’24 is a Communications major and has social media expertise through being on the Student Government Association’s Marketing Committee. She labeled social media as her initial platform for receiving content regarding politics.

“I would say that I do rely on social media when making decisions about a candidate. As a college student with a busy schedule, it often-times becomes hard to find time to watch the news or to do research to learn more about a candidate. I find social media to be helpful in terms of making me aware of who is running and giving me a general idea of what the candidate stands for.” Lawlah said.

Dr. Becker further discussed the importance of social media and how it influences today’s average voter, particularly young voters like Lawlah.

“Social media is an important source of information for the average voter, particularly for younger folks who prefer to get their information from social media over traditional news sources. We also only then see news sources and content that agree with our point of view. In addition, there are many who lack the ability to separate truth from misinformation or disinformation,” Dr. Becker said.

Misinformation and disinformation are difficult to decipher in general but doing so over social media can prove even harder. Lawlah feels that when viewing content on social media, it is the individual’s responsibility to conduct any external research.

via instagram @joebiden

“When I think that a certain candidate is especially important to pay attention to, I will do my own research, like going on their website, so that I can get first-hand knowledge of the candidate, rather than a summary from a news source. The last time I did that was for Maryland’s 2022 governor race,” Lawlah said.

Social media has created a new platform for users to receive news, however, it has also allowed political candidates to gain exposure. Political candidates have utilized social media as a way to constantly gain an upper hand, even if that means sharing content that mocks other candidates.

“I think you can compare it in some ways to negative TV ads from past election cycles. I also think Trump’s personality is pretty unique and he’s more combative and willing to go on the attack than traditional candidates. Biden then needs to respond with attacks rather than just let Trump’s attacks continue without a response,” Becker said.

To further track the validity of political candidates’ statements as the United States inches closer to November’s election, head to Politifact.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Greyhound Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *