Date of Award

Spring 2016

Project Type


Program or Major

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Dante Scala

Second Advisor

Andrew Smith

Third Advisor

Jennifer Borda


This project seeks to answer the question: How did the websites of Republican presidential candidates change over time in order to frame the overall message a candidate is sending potential voters? Subsequently, what information cues or shortcuts that are described by Popkin in The Reasoning Voter were being utilized to target voters in their decision making process? The hypothesis was that Republican candidate websites that employed competitive messages on hot button issues attracted low information, partisan voters, resulting in more traffic on their websites and higher standings in the polls. The data was compiled through a content analysis of the websites of five Republicans who had announced their candidacy for president by September 2016. The main section that was the focus of this research is each candidate’s home pages. The methodology followed that of Haynes et al. (2002) who evaluated candidate press releases, dividing the messages into substantive, competitive, and informative. The variables examined included issues, candidate history/background, campaign announcements, attacks, and the horse race. GOP candidate standings was determined by public opinion data reported by Real Clear Politics. Traffic to each website over the indicated time span was determined through the use of Google Trends was also consulted to see how much traffic was being funneled to a particular website over the course of this research.

THESIS -Excel (544 kB)
Coding Sheets for the GOP Presidential Candidates' Websites