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How do the characteristics of voting advice application users change over time? Evidence from the German Election Studies

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Unequal and declining electoral turnout has spurred numerous initiatives to reverse the trend. Voting advice applications (VAAs) are one prominent attempt. VAAs match the opinions of voters with those of candidates or parties. As the popularity of VAAs increases and research corroborates their effect on turnout and political preferences, it matters at lot who uses VAAs and, thus, experiences these effects. The early VAA literature found that VAA users tend to be young, well-educated, politically interested men. For the first time, this article assesses whether this pattern changes over time. Using German election data, it measures whether age, gender, education, and political interest still explains VAA use. Age remains important, while gender is no longer significant. Those with the highest levels of education remain significantly more likely to use VAAs, but this is no longer true for those with moderate levels of education. Political interest remains an important predictor of VAA usage. Overall, we have thus seen a development in which users become more similar to the population as a whole. A development which corresponds to Rogers’ diffusion thesis. This is important in light of the continued interest in unequal political participation as it suggests that VAAs may, in the long term, be able to reach groups in society currently not engaged in the political process.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGerman Politics
Pages (from-to)399-419
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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