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Campaign Advertising POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal-that you.

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Presentation on theme: "Campaign Advertising POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal-that you."— Presentation transcript:

1 Campaign Advertising POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal-that you can gather votes like box tops-is, I think, the ultimate indignity to the democratic process. Adlai Stevenson ( )

2 In 1888, a British scholar named James Bryce described U.S. presidential campaigns this way: For three months, processions, usually with brass bands, flags, badges, crowds of cheering spectators, are the order of the day and night from end to end of the country. Such business, he said, pleases the participants by making them believe they are effecting something; it impresses the spectators by showing them the other people are in earnest, it strikes the imagination of those who in country hamlets read of the doings in the great city. In short, it keeps up the boom, and an American election is held to be, truly or falsely, largely a matter of booming. Much has changed since Bryces time. Most Americans now experience presidential campaigns not as parade spectators, but from the privacy of our own living rooms. The way in which presidential candidates reach out to voters has been altered fundamentally by changing technology. From Broadsides to Broadcasts

3 Over the course of 100 days in the campaign of 1896, William Jennings Bryan, by his own account, made 600 speeches in 27 states. He traveled over 18,000 miles to reach 5 million people. In a single fireside chat delivered while seated in his very own parlor a generation later, Franklin D. Roosevelt was able to reach 12 times that number by radio.







10 1975 Memo from Bob Mead to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld


12 Follow Me Around

13 Creating an image…

14 Which is it? The media are a convenient scapegoat for our myriad ills (Stuckey) OR The media distort politics with their simple, character-driven narratives (Peretz).

15 A Typology of Media Effects Persuasion Agenda-setting Priming Some say there is a law of minimal effects.The media tend to reinforce the publics preferences; it rarely alters them. Some say there is a law of minimal effects. The media tend to reinforce the publics preferences; it rarely alters them. There are 3 kinds of media effects:

16 The War Room In The War Room, James Carville says of the 1992 Clinton campaign: We changed the say political campaigns are run. What does he mean? Who are the major characters in the documentary? Who do Carville and Stephanopolous work for? Where is candidate Clinton? Micro-management of political spin and strategy (e.g., the color and shape of convention signs creating a mixed message).

17 Political Advertising Click on the icon above to view an extensive archive of presidential campaign ads.

18 A Guide to Campaign Advertisements NAME CALLING – Often referred to as attack ads. Makes assertions about the opponents in a variety of unflattering ways. GLITTERING GENERALITIES – Name calling in reverse While name calling seeks to make up form a judgment to reject or condemn without examining the evidence, the Glittering Generality device seeks to make us approve and accept without examining the evidence. TRANSFER – Uses popular symbols to create a positive connotation for the candidate, or negative or controversial symbols to create a negative connotation of the opponent (e.g., Reagans Morning in America ad, 1984, Bushs Safer, Stronger ad, 2004). TESTIMONIAL – References to and endorsements from celebrities and other well-known people (e.g., Kerrys Rassman ad, 2004). PLAIN FOLKS – Demonstrating that they candidate is just as common as the rest of us, and therefore, wise and good (e.g., Clintons Journey ad, 1992). CARD STACKING – Use of statistics, usually in a one-sided manner to create a smoke screen. Using under-emphasis and over-emphasis to dodge issues and evade facts. BANDWAGON – Appealing to the desire of voters to follow the crowd. Usually directs appeals to groups held together by common ties (e.g., Evangelicals, farmers, school teachers, etc). All the artifices of flattery are used to harness the fears and hatreds, prejudices and biases, convictions and ideals common to a group. These 7 devices were identified by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in 1938

19 Memorable Ads 1964 – Johnson, Daisy 1984 – Reagan, Bear in the Woods, Morning in America 1988 – G.H.W. Bush, Revolving Door 1992 – Clinton, Journey 2004 – G.W. Bush, Safer, Stronger, Wolves 2008 – Obama, Yes We Can 2012 – Obama, Understands, Firms, Romney, These Hands

20 Negative Ads as a Percentage of Total, Source: Darrell M. West, Air Wars (2005): 61. Do negative ads work?

21 Buying Air Time In 2004, George W. Bush and John Kerry spent about $125 million each for 4 million ad airings. Ohio and Florida were the top ad targets, but the campaigns also poured a considerable amount of money into ads aired in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. In contrast, the group known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth aired their controversial adjust 739 times in a small number of media markets where only 2.1% of the American population lived. Because of the free media attention it generated, by mid- September nearly 2/3 of those polled said they had heard of the ads, and 1/3 of those said they believed the charges were true. The cost of television advertising has risen astronomically over time.

22 Which is it? The media are a convenient scapegoat for our myriad ills (Stuckey) OR The media distort politics with their simple, character-driven narratives (Peretz).

23 The Desktop Candidate 60% of internet users said they went online to get news or information about the 2008 elections. 38% of internet users, or about 43 million people, said they used to discuss politics. One of the most popular subjects was jokes about the candidates and the election. 11% of internet users, or more than 13 million people, went online to engage directly in campaign activities such as donating money, volunteering, or learning about political events to attend. According to the Pew Internet and American Life project:





28 The Desktop Candidate 54% of voting-age Americans used the internet for political purposes during the 2010 midterm elections. 58% of online adults looked online for news about politics or the 2010 campaigns, and 32% of online adults got most of their 2010 campaign news from online sources. In 2012, 66 percent of the adults using Twitter and Facebook did so in part to conduct civil and political activity. According to the Pew Internet and American Life project:

29 How does the digital age change politics? Speeds up the media cycle (e.g., Feiler Faster Thesis) Increased competition diversifies the information provided Diminishes the influence of the mainstream media Helps campaigns to micro- target supporters (GOTV) Helps campaigns to solicit donations Increases efficiency and lowers costs Loosens control More democratic

30 Main Sources of Campaign News, Based on all adults Television 66% 69% 67% Newspapers Internet Radio Magazines Source: The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, November 3-24, 2010 Post-Election Tracking Survey. n=2,257 national adults ages 18 and older, including 755 cell phone interviews. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Note: totals may exceed 100% due to multiple responses.

31 Internet Tools Candidate websites Blogs Social networking Video sharing Twitter


33 For twenty years, people have been calling this era of computers, the Internet, and telecommunications the information age. But thats not what it is. What were really in now is the empowerment age. If information is power, then this new technologywhich is the first to evenly distribute informationis really distributing power. I believe that the internet is the last hope for democracy.

34 Raising Money on the Internet

35 Romneys Project ORCA The Obama campaign likes to brag about their ground operation, but its nothing compared to this. Instead of using paper strike lists, OCRA uses smartphone technology to gather and send the data in real time.

36 A failure and an embarrassment. And I sensed it the night before the election, when I called the 800 number for our final conference call and got a busy signal. Volunteers were not reminded to bring their poll watchers certificate.

37 The new megafile didn't just tell the campaign how to find voters and get their attention; it also allowed the number crunchers to run tests predicting which types of people would be persuaded by certain kinds of appeals. Call lists in field offices, for instance, didn't just list names and numbers; they also ranked names in order of their persuadability, with the campaign's most important priorities first. About 75% of the determining factors were basics like age, sex, race, neighborhood and voting record. Consumer data about voters helped round out the picture… Obamas Project Narwahl

38 Consequences Supporters come to you, not the other way around Drives down costs Creates an emotional investment, which leads to loyalty Loss of control from the top-down

39 Why did Dean fail? Why did Dean fail to capture the Democratic nomination in 2004? Did the internet fall short of the hype to revolutionize political campaigns and fundraising? Did old media attack Dean because his use of the internet threatened their power? Or, is the candidate himself to blame? In other words, would Trippis style of campaigning have succeeded with a better candidate at the helm?



42 Election Night Coverage

43 How Exit Polls Work Pollsters working for the National Election Pool (NEP) first draw a random sample of precincts from within each state. In 2004, interviewers were sent to 1,495 precincts across the country. On Election Day, One (or sometimes two) interviewers stand outside the polling place in each sampled precinct and randomly select about 100 voters as they leave, evenly spread throughout the day. They may, for instance, adopt a set pattern by selecting every 10 th voter, or every 20 th voter. If a voter refuses to participate, their gender, race, and approximate age are recorded by the interviewer so that statistical corrections can be made later to adjust for any bias. Voters who agree to participate are given a small note card to fill out privately that includes roughly 25 questions. Interviewers break occasionally to tabulate the results, and call those results in to the NEP a predetermined times of daysuch as 9:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., etc. Once the polls close, interviewers obtain actual turnout counts for their precinct, and if possible, actual vote returns. As the night wears on, those numbers are gradually incorporated into the exit poll results. Pollsters also use complex weighting schemes and algorithms to compare current data to historical data. Finally, once all votes have been counted, the exit poll is weighted by the vote to match the actual result. Source:

44 Why Cant We Trust Numbers Leaked Early in the Day? It is still just a survey, with the usual amount of sampling errorin most states +/- 4% at the end of the day. Mid-day numbers could be +/- 7% or more. Mid-day numbers do not reflect weighting by actual turnout. At most, they may be adjusted to reflect past turnout. Voting patterns are different early in the day. People who work full-time jobs typically vote late. Exit polls do not include early or absentee voting. In 2004, the NEP tried to compensate with a telephone poll in some states, but that may or may not have been used to produce mid-day numbers. Numbers leaked on the internet could be completely phony. Source:

45 Exit Polls: What Went Wrong? The early numbers leaked on the internet were raw and unweighted, and never intended for public disclosure. The National Election Poll (NEP) oversampled women early in the day. Their 1:00 p.m. release contained a sample 59% women; the 4:00 p.m. release had 58% women. Participation in exit polls is voluntary. Kerry voters were more eager to be interviewed by pollsters than Bush voters, creating a non-response bias. In 2004, exit polls leaked on the internet to sites such as the Drudge Report showed John Kerry leading George W. Bush in Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowaall states which Bush ultimately won. Conspiracy- minded bloggers on the internet later speculated that the exit polls were right, and the vote tallies wrong, and wondered aloud about the potential for widespread vote fraud. The problem, however, was clearly with the polls themselves, which produced an average error of 1.9% per precinct in Kerrys favor. What went wrong? Source:

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