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Campaign Advertising and American Democracy

Travis N. Kenneth M.; Ridout Paul B.; Goldstein Michael M.; Freedman Franz

Publication Year: 2009

It has been estimated that more than three million political ads were televised leading up to the elections of 2004.  More than $800,000,000 was spent on TV ads in the race for the White House alone and presidential candidates, along with their party and interest group allies, broadcast over a million ads -- more than twice the number aired before the 2000 elections.  What were the consequences of this barrage of advertising?

Were viewers turned off by political advertising to the extent that it disuaded them from voting, as some critics suggest?  Did they feel more connected to political issues and the political system or were they alienated?  These are the questions this book answers, based on a unique, robust, and extensive database dedicated to political advertising.

Confronting prevailing opinion, the authors of this carefully researched work find that political ads may actually educate, engage, and mobilize American voters.  Only in the rarest of circumstances do they have negative impacts.

Published by: Temple University Press


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List of Figures and Tables

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pp. ix-xi

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pp. xiii- xiv

This book does not represent our first take on the effect of televised political advertising. Over the past seven years we have gathered, analyzed, and tested the effects of political advertising in a range of years and over a range of election contests. Some of the analyses that we present here have been published in previous journal...

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1. Campaign Advertising: The Whipping Boy of American Politics

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pp. 1-10

American-style democracy may or may not ultimately take root in Iraq, but Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Mike Luckovich has apoint in any case, and it’s an important one: For most people, the ideaof exporting to an emerging democracy the kind of...

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2. Campaign Ads as Information Supplements: A Spillover Theory of Advertising Effects

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pp. 11-24

This book is about how campaign advertising affects citizens’ graspof the alternatives in a campaign, their evaluation of the process, and their inclination to participate in it. It is not about the effects of advertisingon voters’...

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3. Measuring Exposure to Campaign Ads

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pp. 25-35

The disparate claims about campaign advertising and its effects on American citizens, explored in the last chapter, reflect in part the myriad methodological approaches that have been brought to bear on the subject. The methodological pluralism represented in the literature is, by some measures, a good thing...

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4. Tracking the Volume and Content of Political Advertising

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pp. 36-51

Since 2000, the Wisconsin Advertising Project has gathered, processed, coded, and made available to the scholarly community tracking data originally collected by TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media ...

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5. What, When, and Where: Making Sense of Campaign Advertising

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pp. 52-67

Over the course of the 2000 election season, 970,424 ads advocating for federal candidates aired in the top seventy-five media markets. In 2004, in these same markets, 1,050,630 ads aired on behalf of presidential, Senate, and...

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6. What Did They Know and When Did They Know It?

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pp. 68-86

There are probably few people (besides the four of us) who sit down in front of their television sets during election season and say, “Let’s watch some campaign ads!” Rather, advertising ...

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7. Campaign Advertising and Voter Attitudes toward the Political Process

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pp. 87-104

As we demonstrated in the previous chapter, campaign advertisements have the potential to inform citizens. More specifically, we showed that exposure to campaign advertising was related to informational gains in the context of presidential, House, and Senate races...

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8. Campaign Advertising and Citizen Participation

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pp. 105-116

During the 2004 season, 3.4 percent of Americans adults did campaign work for a candidate or party; 7.6 percent attended a campaign meeting, rally, or speech...

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9. Advertising Tone and Political Engagement

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pp. 117-135

We have seen in the previous chapters that exposure to political advertisements can have important effects on what voters know, as well as on their attitudes about the political process...

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10. Campaign Advertising and American Democracy

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pp. 136-144

According to the conventional wisdom put forth by many pundits and some scholars, campaign advertising (and negative advertising in particular) serves to corrupt and debase democratic discourse,mislead and confuse citizens, shrink and polarize ...

Appendix A: Assessing the Validity of the CMAG Tracking Data

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pp. 145-146

Appendix B: Assessing the Reliability of the CMAG Storyboard Coding

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pp. 147-150

Appendix C: Datasets and Variables

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pp. 151-160

Appendix D: Wisconsin Advertising Project Coding Sheet for 2000 Ads

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pp. 161-166

Appendix E: Wisconsin Advertising Project Coding Sheet for 2004 Ads

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pp. 167-178


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pp. 179-186


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pp. 187-194


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pp. 195- 197

E-ISBN-13: 9781592134571

Publication Year: 2009