Mainstreaming the populist radical right? Online news exposure and voting behavior in the 2019 European Parliament election


How does media exposure relate to support for radical right populist parties (RRPPs)? We contribute to this classic debate by analyzing the web browsing histories and survey responses of six thousand study participants in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK during the 2019 European Parliament election. Linking direct measures of online news exposure to voting behavior allows us to assess the effects of the salience of issues politicized by RRPPs on their electoral support. The likelihood to vote for RRPPs was higher when the EU was more salient in individual media diets, while exposure to the less salient issue of immigration did not increase the propensity to vote for RRPPs. Alongside consistent results for other party families and interactions with pre-existing voting intentions, the findings indicate that the electoral effects of online media are contingent on the overall salience of a specific issue and voters' predispositions.

European Political Science Review