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Preface T HIS BOOK BEGAN as an idea in 2004 while working with Paul Freedman and Ken Goldstein on Campaign Advertising and American Democracy (Temple, 2007). In the first drafts of that book, we considered including some discussion of ads’ effects on voters’ candidate preferences. As we fleshed out the idea and wrote some prose, however, we knew that the concept deserved its own lengthy treatment. There were too many interesting questions that deserved specific attention. What kinds of ads are most persuasive? Who is more strongly affected by ad exposure? How does the coverage of ads in local news affect the persuasive properties of the ads? Because so many interesting questions entered these initial discussions, we sat down after the publication of the earlier book and drafted an outline. The resulting book does not address or answer all of the potential factors that condition ad persuasion—that would take a much longer analysis and probably more than one volume—but it does tackle the major questions asked by scholars, journalists, and citizens. In between that initial outline and now, three federal elections have taken place: the congressional elections of 2006 and 2010 and the presidential election of 2008. Such is the case with scholarship on American campaigns: another election is always around the corner, with new technologies and tactical innovations changing the landscape. We have worked to include some discussion of the 2006 and 2008 elections in this book (including modeling ad effects in those years) and the subsequent spread of Internet advertising, but we do not think the empirical analysis is all that sensitive to the inclusion or exclusion of election years. The research herein shows that ads work, and they work in a lot of circumstances. We demonstrate this in presidential and Senate elections across years and surveys. We think the results are robust and the conclusions, general. Moreover, it seems unlikely that political advertising is waning as a method of reaching voters. Some preliminary numbers from 2010 reinforce a point we make strongly in Chapter 1. For example, in September and October of 2008, over 400,000 ads were aired nationally advocating for U.S. House candidates. In the just-completed 2010 elections, ad volume in House races jumped to over 620,000 ads aired, an increase of 46 percent. In Senate races, the volume of ads aired in the fall campaign increased by 12 percent over 2008, from 440,000 ads to just under 500,000 ads. These increases were not attributable to just one type of sponsor. Candidates, parties, and independent groups all bought more ads in 2010 than in 2008. In total there were more ads aired in the 2010 congressional elections than in any previous set of congressional elections for which there are data. Ads are as dominant as ever, and they surely will continue to play a key role in the coming 2012 presidential election. A lot of people ask us whether ads matter, and, of course, the answer depends. But, in general, we can say confidently that ads are persuasive, especially if you have more ads than your competitor. This does not mean that money to buy ads determines electoral success, however. That is the importance of the empirical work in this book. Many ads fall flat, but when they do so depends in part on the context of the race, the characteristics of the ads, and the profile of the viewer. MANY PEOPLE deserve special thanks as we complete this work. Bowdoin College and its junior leave policy helped Michael Franz devote the 2008–2009 academic year to completing a draft and working on revisions. A Faculty Research Award also helped fund a trip to Washington, D.C., in spring 2009 to discuss electoral innovaviii Î Preface tions with political consultants. Thanks, in particular, go to Joel Rivlin and Frank Chi for taking the time to discuss ads, the Internet, and micro-targeting. Mike’s colleagues in the Government Department were also very helpful, creating an atmosphere in which an assistant professor could devote a lot of time to research and writing. Moreover, his students were more than eager to discuss advertising and its likely impact on the political process. Steve Smith was an incredible research assistant in the summer of 2007. He ably coded hundreds of ads on emotional content and offered good advice to streamline and improve the coding. Students in Mike’s Campaigns and Elections class in fall 2007 helped with inter-coder reliability, and more than...


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