Applications due Nov. 1 for undergraduate research project on social media and the 2020 presidential election


Assistant Professor Joe Cabosky and Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss are now accepting applications for the undergraduate research project "Social Media, Social Identity, and the 2020 Presidential Campaign," which begins with a trip to the Iowa caucuses in January 2020.

The project is an opportunity for undergraduate students to gain experience in research related to political communication during the 2020 U.S. presidential election and is open to students who are enrolled in MEJO 490: Undergraduate Research in Political Communication.

Cabosky and Kreiss will each take two research teams of five undergraduates to the Iowa Democratic Caucuses Jan. 30 through Feb. 4, 2020. Interested students should apply here for the opportunity to join the team of either Cabosky or Kreiss by Nov. 1, 2019.

In recent years, researchers have turned their attention to the ways that politics and political communication are more about social identity than policy. During the course of elections, candidates make appeals to people based more on who they are – Democrats or Republicans, people of faith, members of particular racial and ethnic groups or geographic regions – than on which policies they might prefer. This research project will analyze how social identity appeals take shape on the ground through the work of candidates and campaigns during the 2020 Iowa caucuses.

Students participating in this research project will complete certification in human-subjects research through the UNC Institutional Review Board and receive training in qualitative field research methods. Students will attend political events and rallies, document campaign social media strategies, observe the workings of field offices and conduct interviews with campaign staffers and citizens, while systematically documenting their experiences. Students will then engage in analyzing the data and work on additional analyses of social media content from the 2020 presidential election.

Applicants will need to make clear the reasons they are interested in politics and provide a summary of relevant work and research experience and skills. They should create a statement of what they hope to learn from the experience of participating in this project, area of concentration in the Hussman School, class year and participation in other UNC travel programs. MEJO 490 will be organized around training for this research project, data analysis from the Iowa trip, and further analyses (both quantitative and qualitative) of the 2020 presidential cycle.

A second phase of this research project will take place at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, NC, Aug. 24 through Aug. 27, 2020 and will have a second application process.