Expressing a Political Agenda Through Social Media: A Content Analysis of Representative Pete Aguilar’s #DearPete Social Media Campaign

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Since the invention of social media, politicians have had more opportunities to engage with their constituents through various platforms. Over time, the sophistication of social media tools allowed politicians to increase engagement to design and share targeted messages to their audiences. Most often, this comes in the form of a digital campaign, which is most popular during campaign seasons or when an initiative is deemed critical. This research examined the social media campaign #DearPete and the consistency between U.S. Representative Pete Aguilar’s stated political agenda, which appears on his official website,, and the content posted to his various social media accounts. This study used Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw’s agenda setting theory as a foundation to understand Aguilar’s selection of content posted to his social media platforms, specifically Facebook and Twitter. In this study, the researcher examined Representative Aguilar’s political agenda and his social media postings during the timeframe of January 2017 – October 2018 to determine whether the representative used his social media account to spread his political agenda to a larger audience.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Public Administration
Public Administration, Public Policy, Communication Studies