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Electoral Campaigns Selling candidates like soap.

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Presentation on theme: "Electoral Campaigns Selling candidates like soap."— Presentation transcript:

1 Electoral Campaigns Selling candidates like soap

2 Ideal functions of elections Choose the best people for public service Provide for orderly succession of regimes Confer legitimacy on the regime and the government Provide a means for public control over government –The main source of public control in a representative democracy –Punish the scoundrels

3 Register changes in public policy preferences People choose candidates that will promote their favored issues and policies within government

4 Ideal functions of electoral campaigns Inform the electorate Test and evaluate candidates Generate popular debate over public policy Energize system support Socialize new citizens –Education –Legitimation –Activism/conduct

5 Approaches to campaigning Open forum/policy debate Marketing campaign

6 To meet the democratic ideal, a campaign would Engage the [entire] public in a thoughtful debate over public policy, reveal the character, ideology and policy preferences of the candidates for public office, act as a watchdog to see that the process is clean, and encourage the public to take action to promote its interests by voting and other political acts. If the campaign is clean and the vote clear, the new government should be considered legitimate.

7 The campaign should Reach out to all members of the electorate Attack the most crucial issues of the day Provide a sophisticated and nuanced discussion of the issues, providing a clear picture of the candidates’ positions that delineates their areas of agreement and disagreement Encourage dialogue among members of the public and between the public and elites

8 The marketing approach The earliest significant television advertising campaign for a presidential candidate was Rosser Reeves’ campaign for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 –“Eisenhower Answers America”

9 http://www. c Eisenhower Answers America

10 The marketing approach to political campaigns has accelerated since that time till now it dominates political campaigning for major political office

11 The marketing campaign model Rather than leading a debate, the marketing model sees the goal as ‘selling the candidate’ –Product marketing professionals brought in The sale is a one-time sale on a single day with everyone buying at once Communications are meant to convince rather than inform Winning is everything

12 Decline of in-person campaigning, especially at state-wide and federal levels Rising costs of campaigns Media-centered, especially TV Development of political marketing as a profession –Success?

13 Undecideds The ‘swing vote’ in elections is made up largely of those persons who are relatively ill-informed, have a less-developed ideology and are swayed by late events, advertising and non-policy news They often decide the elections, though, and are a major target of candidates –Going negative can work here

14 Political communication Advertising News coverage –Press relations, PR Debates Political parties

15 Political advertising “Televised political advertising is now the dominant form of communication between candidates and voters in the presidential elections and in most statewide contests” –Kaid, “Political advertising”

16 Image Parallel to branding in commercial product campaigns –If I mentioned a politician, the image would be the first, general impression of that person How would you describe that person to someone who doesn’t know him/her?

17 Image development General presentation of a candidate –Must be clear and simple –How candidate comes across in the media –Asserted character “traditional values” –Basic ideology Simplified –Issue stands Limited number varying in specificity

18 Image Should relate well to target audience –Republicans want a strong leader –Democrats want a caring leader

19 Image Challenge opposing candidate’s image –Compare to record Opposition research Identify opposition with disfavored idea

20 John Kerry

21 George Bush

22 Issues v. images Most advertising focuses on issues rather than image –78% of 2000 presidential campaign ads (historic high) However, “the percentage of spots with specific policy issue information was much lower than the overall number of issue spots” –Vague, general statements –Claims without context (often misleading or even false) Researchers have come to conclude that the two are intertwined and inseparable

23 Emotion and cultural symbols Common use of non-rational appeals Clearly a successful strategy Spots contain an enormous amount of emotional content “more emotional proof than logical or ethical proof” According to Hart “one must never underestimate the importance of that which advertising most reliably delivers—political emotion”

24 Review of presidential advertising

25 Emotional appeals “Winners use more words indicating activity and optimism than losers. Losers, alternately, demonstrated less certainty but higher realism in their spots.” –Ballotti & Kaid, 2000

26 Issues ‘owned’ by the parties Democrats –Domestic policy Health care, environment, social security Republicans –Foreign policy Terrorism, strong defense –Spending Taxes, fiscal responsibility –Religious values

27 Kaid: “The Television Advertising Battleground in the 2004 Preseidential Election”

28 Negative v. positive There has been a significant increase in negativity over the last 30 years

29 2000 [all] elections

30 Positive v. Negative Challengers more likely to engage in negative advertising, while incumbents tend to be positive –Challenger criticizing record, incumbent defending it Attack ads are more common in competitive races –Most races against incumbents are long shots Negative ads are more likely to be sponsored by parties or advocacy groups Negative ads have more substantive issue information


32 Goldstein, “Lessons learned”

33 Positive v. negative Positive ads tend to focus on the present or future Negative ads tend to focus on the past and express anger

34 Effects of political advertising “One of the earliest surprises in political advertising research was the finding that political television commercials do a good job of communicating information, especially issue information, to voters regardless of partisan selectivity.” –Kaid, “Political advertising”

35 Effects Enhances candidate name recognition Increases voter recall about specific campaign issues and candidate issue positions –Some research has found television advertising to be more effective in educating the public than television news or even print A minority of research refutes this

36 Effects Agenda setting “Exposure to campaign spots can affect candidate image evaluation” –Effects may be mixed due to competitive claims exposure

37 Effects Electoral outcomes –“higher levels of spending seem to have some relationship to turnout and success for the candidate” Especially strong for late deciders –Little evidence of impact in initiatives and referenda

38 Negative ad effects Negative ads usually are more effective for recall than positive ads –Especially effective in generating negative attitudes toward opposition –Focus on opponent’s issue positions are more effective than attacks on character –When attacking character, focus on competence or experience are most effective Rebuttals are helpful –However, may be a ‘sleeper effect’ Inoculation can work

39 Negative ad effects “negative ads do affect voting preferences” Works more for challengers than for incumbents Mixed findings concerning whether negative advertising leads to political alienation and cynicism

40 Female candidates Female candidates tend to focus more on issues than men do, and to emphasize domestic issues –May be more due to greater number of Democrats who are women than to gender

41 Those who view ads for information are more likely to learn and to have their vote intention influenced “Voters with low levels of campaign involvement are most likely to be affected by political spots”

42 line/years/1964b.html line/years/1964b.html /index.php /index.php s/pastwinners/pastwinners2005.asp s/pastwinners/pastwinners2005.asp

43 Media strategy Targeting Costs v impact Reach and frequency Timing Generating “free media” dia/july-dec04/ad_7-19.html dia/july-dec04/ad_7-19.html

44 Quinn & Kivijarv, “US political media buying 2004”



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