The impact of immigration news on anti-immigrant party support: unpacking agenda-setting and issue ownership effects over time

Alyt Damstra*, Laura Jacobs, Mark Boukes, Rens Vliegenthart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study focuses on immigration news as driver of anti-immigrant party support. Predicting the poll results of the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), we distinguish between (a) general immigration news, news in which immigration is linked to (b) crime, (c) terrorism, or (d) the economy, and (e) immigration news in which the Freedom Party is mentioned explicitly. Focusing on the period 2004–2017, an extensive dataset has been generated using computer-assisted content analyses of media coverage (n = 1,697,976), public opinion data, and real-world indicators. Time-series analyses demonstrate a positive impact of general immigration news on anti-immigrant party support–and not on the support for other parties. No media effects are found for the immigration sub-issues or the visibility of the Freedom Party in the news. However, the main competitor on the right side of the political spectrum–the Liberal Party (VVD)–may also benefit from immigration news but only when it manages to be linked to the issue in the media coverage. Our results raise relevant questions about the preconditions of issue ownership effects, and show how issue ownership is a highly contested political asset in a fragmented and competitive multiparty system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-118
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

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