Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Political Science

First Advisor

Janet Donavan

Second Advisor

Michael McDevitt

Third Advisor

Edward Scott Adler


The 2016 US Presidential Election is not just notable for its result, but for the historic mediated setting that provided the backdrop. This was not the first election to see widespread adoption of social media as campaign tools, but 2016 arguably saw some of the highest attention paid to the activity of the candidates in this medium. This paper will explore how the major party candidates used the micro-blogging website, Twitter, and more precisely how campaign negativity was expressed by both the candidates and the rest of the tweeting population. Conducted from the 26th of September to the 9th of November, this study hypothesized contagious and corrective phenomena between the major party candidates and the rest of Twitter. While some of the results of this exploration reaffirmed extant theory about campaign negativity, there were additional interactions between the variables that indicate that negativity is expressed differently in a social media setting. This paper chiefly found that Donald Trump, though a more frequent target of higher degrees of negativity, was also able to elicit more criticism of his opponent than Hillary Clinton was able to provoke towards Trump.

Aaron Chesler Appendix A.pdf (437 kB)
contains graphics and figures

Aaron Chesler Appendix B.pdf (379 kB)
contains code and references for selection