University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
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Abstract

Cory Booker was elected mayor of Newark, New Jersey in 2006, after two rancorous and racially charged campaign cycles; he used a deracialized political style that challenged traditional thinking about Black leadership for many in Newark. Booker uses the social networking tool, Twitter, to establish a cohesive group identity and to legitimize his leadership with African Americans in Newark. We use a social media “engagement infrastructure” framework developed by Leighninger and Mann (2011) to review Booker’s postings on Twitter over a 31-day period. The goal of this review was to analyze the ways in which Booker utilizes social media to promote African American political engagement, and himself, in Newark. Findings suggest that, although Booker successfully uses Twitter to map networks, build coalitions, connect with and attract constituents, a more politically engaged population has not materialized. Booker’s ability to create an improved infrastructure that promotes his political agenda and that solidifies Black group support may be essential for his long-term success as a deracialized Black leader.

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