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.
It is common knowledge that televised political ads are meant to appeal to voters' emotions, yet little is known about how or if these tactics actually work. Ted Brader's innovative book is the first scientific study to examine the effects that these emotional appeals in political advertising have on voter decision-making.
At the heart of this book are ingenious experiments, conducted by Brader during an election, with truly eye-opening results that upset conventional wisdom. They show, for example, that simply changing the music or imagery of ads while retaining the same text provokes completely different responses. He reveals that politically informed citizens are more easily manipulated by emotional appeals than less-involved citizens and that positive "enthusiasm ads" are in fact more polarizing than negative "fear ads." Black-and-white video images are ten times more likely to signal an appeal to fear or anger than one of enthusiasm or pride, and the emotional appeal triumphs over the logical appeal in nearly three-quarters of all political ads.
Brader backs up these surprising findings with an unprecedented survey of emotional appeals in contemporary political campaigns. Politicians do set out to campaign for the hearts and minds of voters, and, for better or for worse, it is primarily through hearts that minds are won. Campaigning for Hearts and Minds will be indispensable for anyone wishing to understand how American politics is influenced by advertising today.
Choices and Changes is the most comprehensive examination to date of the impact of interest groups on recent American electoral politics. Richly informed, theoretically and empirically, it is the first book to explain the emergence of aggressive interest group electioneering tactics in the mid-1990s—including “soft money” contributions, issue ads, and “527s” (IRS-classified political organizations).
Michael Franz argues that changing political and legal contexts have clearly influenced the behavior of interest groups. To support his argument, he tracks in detail the evolution of campaign finance laws since the 1970s, examines all soft money contributions—nearly $1 billion in total—to parties by interest groups from 1991-2002, and analyzes political action committee (PAC) contributions to candidates and parties from 1983-2002. He also draws on his own interviews with campaign finance leaders.
Based on this rigorous data analysis and a formidable knowledge of its subject, Choices and Changes substantially advances our understanding of the significance of interest groups in U.S. politics.
Americans tend to see negative campaign ads as just that: negative. Pundits, journalists, voters, and scholars frequently complain that such ads undermine elections and even democratic government itself. But John G. Geer here takes the opposite stance, arguing that when political candidates attack each other, raising doubts about each other’s views and qualifications, voters—and the democratic process—benefit.
In Defense of Negativity, Geer’s study of negative advertising in presidential campaigns from 1960 to 2004, asserts that the proliferating attack ads are far more likely than positive ads to focus on salient political issues, rather than politicians’ personal characteristics. Accordingly, the ads enrich the democratic process, providing voters with relevant and substantial information before they head to the polls.
An important and timely contribution to American political discourse, In Defense of Negativity concludes that if we want campaigns to grapple with relevant issues and address real problems, negative ads just might be the solution.
The Persuasive Power of Campaign Advertising offers a comprehensive overview of political advertisements and their changing role in the Internet age. Travis Ridout and Michael Franz examine how these ads function in various kinds of campaigns and how voters are influenced by them.
The authors particularly study where ads are placed, asserting that television advertising will still be relevant despite the growth of advertising on the Internet. The authors also explore the recent phenomenon of outrageous ads that "go viral" on the web-which often leads to their replaying as television news stories, generating additional attention.
It also features the first analysis of the impact on voters of media coverage of political advertising and shows that televised political advertising continues to have widespread influence on the choices that voters make at the ballot box.
The Electoral College has played an important role in presidential politics since our nation’s founding, but surprisingly little information exists about precisely how it affects campaign strategy. Daron R. Shaw, a scholar who also worked as a strategist in both Bush-Cheney campaigns, has written the first book to go inside the past two presidential elections and reveal how the race to 270 was won—and lost.
Shaw’s nonpartisan study lays out how both the Democrats and the Republicans developed strategies to win decisive electoral votes by targeting specific states and media markets. Drawing on his own experience with Republican battle plans, candidate schedules, and advertising purchases—plus key contacts in the Gore and Kerry camps—Shaw goes on to show that both sides used information on weekly shifts in candidate support to reallocate media buys and schedule appearances. Most importantly, he uses strikingly original research to prove that these carefully constructed plans significantly affected voters’ preferences and opinions—not in huge numbers, but enough to shift critical votes in key battlegrounds.
Bridging the gap between those who study campaigns and those who conduct them, The Race to 270 will provide political scientists and practitioners alike with fresh insights about the new strategies that stem from one of our oldest institutions.