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Meme Campaigning : The Effects of Political Campaign Memes on Canadian Voters

  • Author / Creator
    Vachon-Chabot, Amy Caroline
  • Political memes were omnipresent on social media during the 2019 Canadian federal election. Nonetheless, how do political memes affect Canadian voters? This question remains unanswered today. This thesis seeks to fill in the existing research gap by following the footsteps and methodology used by Huntington (2017, 2019) in her research on the effects and affect of political memes. To do so, I conducted an online experiment involving 550 potential voters from across Canada to understand the effects of eight political memes that were shared on social media during the 2019 Canadian federal election campaign. These political memes addressed two topics that predominated in this campaign: climate change and a scandal involving images of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wearing blackface makeup captured before his involvement in politics. The selected political memes targeted the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada, as well as their respective leaders Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer. I measured the political memes’ effects by examining changes in vote likelihood and evaluations (candidate and party) after potential voters viewed the political memes and by looking at whether political memes were considered persuasive or resonated with the potential voters. I also assessed if potential voters’ characteristics (demographics and political predispositions) or the content of the memes played a role in explaining the political meme’s effects. I found that political memes had a low level of effects on vote likelihood and evaluations, in general. However, the effects were nuanced when certain types of potential voters viewed specific political memes. In other words, potential voters’ characteristics and the memes’ content can explain how political memes affect potential voters.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-8zvj-c955
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.