A Tale of Two E-Parties: Candidate Websites in the 2008 US Presidential Primaries

Cristian Vaccari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Internet has become a relevant campaign tool in the United States and the 2008 presidential elections have marked a turning point in the recognition of its potential. This study analyzed candidate websites during the 2008 presidential primaries through a quantitative coding frame supplemented by latent trait analysis and meta-analysis of coding frames employed by seven earlier studies. The online competitive scenario was found to be less affected by offline dynamics than normalization theory suggests, as the money raised by candidates was not significantly correlated with the amount of features on their websites. However, the websites of candidates who already were in public office other than the Presidency had more features than those of out-of-office aspirants; by contrast, the number of years candidates had spent in public office was negatively correlated with the number of features on their websites. Moreover, Democratic candidates' websites were found to offer substantially more features than Republicans', particularly with respect to engagement tools, thus providing the challenger party with a sizeable competitive advantage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19
Number of pages40
JournalParty Politics
Issue number1
Early online date4 Apr 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • candidate websites
  • internet and elections
  • internet politics
  • online campaigning
  • US 2008 presidential primaries

Cite this