Christian Pentzold

Our article examines how journalistic reports and online comments have made sense of computational politics. It treats the discourse around data-driven campaigns as its object of analysis and codifies four main perspectives that have structured the debates about the use of large data sets and data analytics in elections. We study American, British, and German sources on the 2016 United States presidential election, the 2017 United Kingdom general election, and the 2017 German federal election. There, groups of speakers maneuvered between enthusiastic, skeptical, agnostic, or admonitory stances and cannot be clearly mapped onto these four discursive positions. Coming along with the inconsistent accounts, public sensemaking was marked by an atmosphere of speculation about the substance and effects of computational politics. We conclude that this equivocality helped the journalists and commentators to sideline prior reporting on the issue in order to repeatedly rediscover the practices they had already covered. The full article can be read here.