Sailing Uncharted Waters with Old Boats? COVID-19 and the Digitalization and Professionalization of Presidential Campaigns in Portugal
2. The COVID-19 Pandemic and Election Campaigning: Which Influence on Digitalization and Professionalization?
3.1. Variable Operationalization
3.1.2. Online Competition
4.2. Online Competition
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|Professionalization||Communication||Events||Administrative and Operational Costs||Others||Total|
|Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa||1500 |
|Tiago Mayan Gonçalves||10,450|
|Professionalization||Communication||Events||Administrative and Operational Costs||Others||Total|
|Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa||20,000|
|António Sampaio da Nóvoa||50,000|
|Maria de Belém Roseira||84,271|
|Paulo de Morais||13,714|
This is not done in the analysis of online competition, in search of equalization or normalization patterns, as such analysis requires a full pool (or at least a wider number) of candidates or parties.
In Portugal, the official election campaign starts two weeks before the election day and stops the day before voters are called to the polls (that Saturday is called Dia de Reflexão, Reflection Day). However, campaigning starts quite before that, in an unofficial period dubbed pré-campanha (pre-campaign). As we focus on the two months preceding each election, the period we analyze thus encompasses the pre-campaign and the official campaign stages of the broader campaign cycle. In the analysis of professionalization, since it is not possible to anchor specific dates to expenses, we compare campaign budgets decided before the lockdown/in the pre-campaign period and actual campaign expenses.
Despite its name, which reflects the legacy of Portuguese revolutionary context of the early 1970s, PSD is a center-right party standing for liberal reforms in economic terms (Jalali 2007).
In late January, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s electoral prospects were of: 58% of support in the ICS-Iscte poll; 59.3% in the Intercampus poll; 59.7% in the Aximage poll; 61.8% in the Eurosondagem poll; 63% in the CESOP poll; and 65.4% in the Pitagórica poll. Source: ERC—Media Regulatory Entity (https://www.erc.pt/pt/sondagens/publicitacao-de-sondagens/depositos-de-2021, accessed on 17 June 2022).
Sources: https://www.tribunalconstitucional.pt/tc/contas_eleicoes-pr-2016.html#1104 and https://www.tribunalconstitucional.pt/tc/contas_eleicoes-pr-2021.html, accessed on 11 September 2022.
Except for Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in 2021, every candidate had their own campaign website, wherein they publicized personal and campaign details, including information on specific events (e.g. Tiago Mayan Gonçalves) or the overall campaign agenda (e.g., Marisa Matias, Edgar Silva, or João Ferreira).
An important note on the Facebook data for Edgar Silva (Communists and Greens) and Henrique Neto (independent, former Socialist MP), both candidates in the 2016 election, is due. First, Edgar Silva did not have a public Facebook account at the time of data collection (Summer of 2022), even though we have reasons to assume that such page existed and was deleted: if we delve deeper into Edgar Silva’s Twitter, we find several references to his Facebook campaign page. Second, Henrique Neto’s official page on Facebook does not display any publications made during the two months preceding the election. Yet, there are photo albums and events that prove that his page was used for campaigning and lead us to suspect that the campaign posts have been deleted. In order to prevent the exclusion of such cases due to lack of data for Facebook, we replaced the missing data with an estimated number of Facebook contents for these candidates. These estimates were calculated via a ratio based on the social media behavior of the most similar candidate in terms of electoral result, campaign spending, traditional campaigning (presence on legacy media and on-site events), and activity (and impact) on Twitter: Vitorino Silva. Thus, we calculated Vitorino Silva’s ratio between Twitter and Facebook use, which is 1.645, and used it to compute Edgar Silva and Henrique Neto’s estimated number of posts on Facebook: that is, we multiplied their number of tweets by this ratio. For example, Henrique Neto produced 138 Tweets during the official campaign period (from January 10 to 22). This number is multiplied by 1.645, which results in an estimated value of 227 Facebook posts for Henrique Neto in such period. It is also noteworthy to underline that Cândido Ferreira has a Twitter account, but he has published no tweets during the time span covered in this study.
Reactions to Facebook posts aggregate “likes” and reactions such as “love”, “anger”, “sadness”, “laughter” and “surprise”.
We followed the procedure explained in endnote 8 to estimate Facebook engagement for Edgar Silva and Henrique Neto.
Other studies have used Pearson coefficients to measure the magnitude of a relationship between the properties of a limited number of units of analysis (e.g., Elmelund-Præstekær 2008).
Available at https://www.tribunalconstitucional.pt/tc/contas_eleicoes-pr.html#1104, accessed on 11 September 2022.
Gibson and Römmele (2001)’s professional campaign index includes other items that we believe are not at the core of the professionalization phenomenon, or that became obsolete or mainstream over the last 20 years and therefore are less useful in comparative research: the use of direct mail, the existence of an internal internet communication system, e-mail sign-up for news updates, external campaign headquarters, and continuous campaigning.
Noteworthy, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa did have an official Instagram account, but it was used under his role as President, not for his campaign.
The period before the lockdown comprises 51 days (from 22 November 2020, to 12 January 2021), while the period after the declaration of lockdown encompasses 10 days (from 13 January to 22 January 2021).
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Santana-Pereira, J.; Ferrinho Lopes, H.; Nina, S.R. Sailing Uncharted Waters with Old Boats? COVID-19 and the Digitalization and Professionalization of Presidential Campaigns in Portugal. Soc. Sci. 2023, 12, 45. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12010045
Santana-Pereira J, Ferrinho Lopes H, Nina SR. Sailing Uncharted Waters with Old Boats? COVID-19 and the Digitalization and Professionalization of Presidential Campaigns in Portugal. Social Sciences. 2023; 12(1):45. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12010045Chicago/Turabian Style
Santana-Pereira, José, Hugo Ferrinho Lopes, and Susana Rogeiro Nina. 2023. "Sailing Uncharted Waters with Old Boats? COVID-19 and the Digitalization and Professionalization of Presidential Campaigns in Portugal" Social Sciences 12, no. 1: 45. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12010045