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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 From Broadsides to Broadcasts 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.

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9 1975 Memo from Bob Mead to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld

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11 “Follow Me Around”

12 Creating an image…

13 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).

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

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

16 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., Reagan’s “Morning in America” ad, 1984, Bush’s “Safer, Stronger” ad, 2004). TESTIMONIAL – References to and endorsements from celebrities and other well-known people (e.g., Kerry’s “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., Clinton’s “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

17 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”

18 “Neuromarketing is not magic. It’s not cheating. It’s simply marketing to people in a way that’s most effective. Use pictures. Use humor. Use comfort. Use the same emotions that marketers use each day to tell us about automobiles, beer and banks.” —Fred Davis, Republican media consultant, 2014 “The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.” —Adlai Stevenson, Democratic candidate for president 1956

19 “The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.” —Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson, 1956

20 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).

21 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:

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26 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:

27 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

28 “For twenty years, people have been calling this era of computers, the Internet, and telecommunications the ‘information age.’ But that’s not what it is. What we’re really in now is the empowerment age. If information is power, then this new technology—which is the first to evenly distribute information—is really distributing power.” “I believe that the internet is the last hope for democracy.”

29 Raising Money on the Internet

30 Romney’s Project ORCA “The Obama campaign likes to brag about their ground operation, but it’s nothing compared to this.” Instead of using paper “strike lists,” OCRA uses smartphone technology to gather and send the data in real time.

31 “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.

32 “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…” Obama’s Project Narwahl

33 Election Night Coverage

34 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 day—such 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:

35 Why Can’t We Trust Numbers Leaked Early in the Day? It is still just a survey, with the usual amount of sampling error—in 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:

36 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 Iowa—all 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 Kerry’s favor. What went wrong? Source:


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