Faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences are pursuing research agendas linked to political communication. They focus undergraduate students’ attention on the symbiosis between politics and communication, with special emphasis on digital technology’s growing role in campaigns and public policy debates.

A list of publications is available here.

Partisan rift opens on "net neutrality" issue - new CPC research shows

As a federal court considers new national rules on Internet service, a new study by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication shows most people still oppose Internet “fast lanes.” But the study also shows Americans are reluctant to give the federal government power to regulate “net neutrality.”

The study shows a large majority of people surveyed still oppose Internet fast lanes (71 percent). Opposition is down from a similar survey one year ago (81 percent), when President Obama announced his support for new net neutrality rules. Such rules would restrict Internet providers from offering “fast lanes” in the form of premium service to web streaming operations such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.

The UD survey reveals a new partisan divide on the net neutrality issue between Republicans and Democrats, with Republicans more likely to favor allowing internet service providers to charge extra for premium speeds. In 2014, opposition to fast lanes did not differ significantly by political party.

Download the complete study and analysis here.

CPC research reveals national divides on transgender rights

A new study from the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication suggests a generational blowup over transgender rights could be on the menu for Americans.

A large majority of people surveyed said they favor protection from discrimination for transgender individuals both in schools and in workplaces, and a large majority also supports allowing transgender people to serve openly in the U.S. military.

But Paul Brewer, Director of the Center for Political Communication, said clear divisions on these issues emerge based on age, gender and political party.

Full details of the study are available here.

CPC research confirms political candidates benefit from positive comments about them on social media

CPC researchers used fictitious candidates portrayed on a fake Facebook page to demonstrate that positive comments in social media influence Facebook users to be favorably disposed to those "candidates." Unfavorable comments in social media have negative effects on social media users, according to the research, published in the Journal of Experimental Political Science. The project was conducted by CPC Director Paul Brewer with affiliated faculty members Lindsay Hoffman (Communication), Jennifer Lambe (Communication) and Philip Jones (Political Science & International Relations), and with graduate student Michael Habegger and recent undergraduate Ruby Harrington (both in Political Science & International Relations).

Read more…

Find the full research report here.

Public favors media self-censorship of beheading images

With ISIS claiming to have beheaded a Japanese hostage, the issue of whether images of such events should be shown in the news media returns to public discussion. A national survey by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication shows a large majority of Americans say the news media should not show images of beheadings by the organization ISIS.

Fully 70% of respondents said news media companies should not show such images. Only 26% said news media companies should show the images. The telephone survey was conducted from October 21-26, 2014, shortly after ISIS released videos of several Western hostages being beheaded by members of the organization.

A majority of Americans, 60%, also said social media companies like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube should block access to images of these beheadings. In contrast, only 36% said social media companies should not block access to such images. Controversy has surrounded the issue of whether social media companies should make editorial decisions about the content they allow on their sites.

Associate DirectorThese results suggest Americans support self-censorship by the news media when it comes to these images,” said CPC Associate Director Paul Brewer, who supervised the study. “They also suggest Americans support social media sites taking on active roles as gatekeepers of what people should and shouldn’t see about public affairs.”

The study also shows support for self-censorship of beheading images is lower among younger people and people who describe themselves as less religious. Older and more religious people are more supportive of media taking steps to prevent such images from being seen.


Download the complete study here.

Public opposes Internet "fast-lanes"

As Washington considers new rules governing Internet speeds and pricing, a new national survey by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication shows a large majority of the public opposes the creation of premium Internet “fast lanes.” Fully 81% oppose “allowing Internet service providers to charge some websites or streaming video services extra for faster speeds,” while only 17% favor doing so. The survey also reveals that viewers of satirical shows such as John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight and The Colbert Report are far more aware of the issue than consumers of traditional news sources.

The proposed rules could determine whether Internet service providers such as Comcast and Verizon are allowed to set aside higher-speed service for content providers who pay extra to guarantee access to so-called “fast-lanes.” Critics argue this would raise prices for customers of streaming video services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, who watch movies and television through the Internet. It might also disadvantage start-up companies and non-profit content providers who do not have the financial resources to pay for “fast-lane” access. Internet service providers argue that government regulation of the Internet discourages innovation and investment. The Federal Communications Commission has received almost 4 million public comments on the issue, which has become known as “net neutrality.”

Opposition to the creation of “fast lanes” is strongest (86%) among those who say they have heard a lot about the proposed rules, but most Americans say they have heard little or nothing about the topic. The University of Delaware research found that only 10% of Americans have heard a lot about how “the U.S. government is considering new rules for Internet service providers.” Another 39% have heard a little, whereas fully half (50%) have heard nothing at all about the topic.

The research suggests satire programs can have a significant – and long-lasting – impact on public consciousness about an important public policy issue receiving little coverage in conventional news media. Among those who regularly or sometimes watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, an HBO comedy program that produced a widely viewed segment on net neutrality this summer, 29% say they have heard a lot about the proposed rules—almost three times greater than the level reported by the public as a whole. Among those who regularly or sometimes watch The Colbert Report, a Comedy Central program that also covered net neutrality earlier this year, 23% say they have heard a lot. By contrast, familiarity with the issue is much lower among those regularly or sometimes following traditional news media, including newspapers (12%), CNN (11%), MSNBC (11%), the broadcast evening news programs on ABC, CBS, or NBC (9%), and Fox News (7%).

Americans who use a streaming video service are much more likely than non-users to have heard about the proposed rules. Among streaming video service users, 17% say they have heard a lot about the topic and another 43% have heard a little. Among non-users, only 6% have heard a lot and another 37% have heard a little.

Learn more and download the study here.

Race and Voter ID Laws

October 10, 2010 - The University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication has released analysis of a newly-published study of race and voter ID laws.

The study reveals that seeing a photograph of an African American voter and poll worker affected how white respondents answered a survey question about voter ID laws. White survey respondents who saw this image expressed stronger support for voter ID laws than those who saw no image. Seeing an image of a white voter and poll worker did not affect white respondents’ support. Research faculty David C. Wilson and Paul Brewer supervised the study.

“Our findings suggest that public opinion about voter ID laws can be racialized by simply presenting an image of African Americans voting” said Wilson. “The resulting increase in support for the laws happens independently of political ideology and racial attitudes.”

Voter ID laws require individuals to show government issued identification before voting. Controversy surrounds the role of these laws in next month’s elections for Congress and state offices. A number of states have passed voter ID laws in the name of preventing voting fraud. Polls consistently show that a large majority of Americans favor the laws.

Some opponents of voter ID laws say they are designed te prevent African-Americans, students and low-income voters from casting ballots. The United States Supreme Court recently blocked Wisconsin from implementing its voter ID law, less than a month before the November 4 elections. A federal appeals court also struck down a Texas voter ID law, ruling that the law discriminated against African American and Hispanic voters.

The University of Delaware study shows white voters were somewhat more likely to favor voter ID laws when they were shown an image of black voters and poll workers, compared to white voters who saw no image.

Download the study here.



The University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication has released results from a new public opinion poll in Delaware, as part of its National Agenda program. National Agenda is supported in part by the William P. Frank Foundation of Delaware.

The poll shows both incumbent Delaware members of Congress with wide leads over their opponents in the upcoming 2014 election. Results give U.S. Senator Chris Coons a 27-point lead over Republican nominee Kevin Wade, and incumbent U.S. Representative John Carney with an even larger lead, of 35 points, over Republican nominee Rose Izzo.



On October 30, 2013, the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication released timely information from a Fall, 2013 public opinion poll in Delaware, at the National Agenda program. National Agenda is supported in part by the William P. Frank Foundation of Delaware. The poll measured Delawareans’ opinions on Delaware news and politics, including topics such as gay marriage, voting rights, internet security and surveillance, and the standing of Delaware officials.

Portions of the CPC public opinion poll were featured in the Wilmington News Journal.

More information about National Agenda 2013 is available here.


National Agenda Public Opinion Research (2012)
- Supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the UNIDEL Foundation
Breaking Boundaries: Symposium on Political Entertainment Media (2011)
Civic Engagement 2.0 (2010)

CPC Associate Director for Research
Paul R. Brewer
Professor of Communication
Associate Director for Research, Paul Brewer

Some faculty of the Center for Political Research meet with UD alumnus David Plouffe, 2008 campaign manager for President Barack Obama.
(l to r) Elizabeth Perse, Lindsay Hoffman, Phil Jones, Ralph Begleiter, David Plouffe, Suzanne Austin, David Wilson

Coordinator, Research in Politics and Technology
Director, National Agenda program
Lindsay Hoffman
Assistant Professor of Communication

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