Surprising findings about the positive effects of political advertising
Campaign Advertising and American Democracy
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Michael M. Franz, Paul B. Freedman, Kenneth M. Goldstein and Travis N. Ridout
Significant University Press Titles for Undergraduates, 2007-2008
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 dissuaded 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.
"The authors have written a tour de force of how candidates spend millions in campaign ads and what impact this money has on voter sentiments. Using new data on ad buys, ad content, and voter surveys, they present the most comprehensive examination of political advertising that has been attempted to date. Their argument that advertisements contribute to citizen education and engagement is novel and should lead readers to question conventional wisdom about campaign advertising being detrimental to American politics."
"I can’t remember learning so much about a subject from a single book, nor seeing so much conventional wisdom challenged by a single book. This well-designed, empirically rigorous, fair-minded study of political advertising is a must read for any student of contemporary campaigns."
"The essence of this argument has been advanced before but never with nearly this depth and quality of data. This book is required reading for scholars interested in political campaigns. Summing Up: Essential."
"Franz et. al….make major new empirical contributions….[They] have blazed impressive trails in the study of campaign advertising and laid important foundations."
"[I]ts methodological and substantive contributions are significant. Campaign Advertising will enjoy preeminent standing in the literature and become a proseminar staple given its scope, creative methodology, care given to situate the findings in existing literature...it is ideal for graduate students and established academics.... Franz et al.'s Campaign Advertising represents the most comprehensive contribution to one of the most robust debates in our field. Perhaps it will inspire another APSA 'showdown' on questions that are so vital to the health of American democracy."
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Michael M. Franz is Assistant Professor of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College. His research interests include political advertising, interest groups politics, campaign finance reform, and mass media. He has published articles in The American Journal of Political Science, Political Communication, Political Analysis, Political Behavior, and The Journal of Politics. In 2007, he was awarded the American Political Science Association's E.E. Schattschneider Award for the best doctoral dissertation in the field of American government.
Paul B. Freedman is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. His work has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Communication, Campaigns and Elections, and Slate. Since 2000, he has been an election analyst for ABC News in New York.
Kenneth M. Goldstein is Professor of Political Science at University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project. In addition to publishing widely in academic outlets, his reputation for unbiased and non-partisan analysis has made him a favorite source for the national news media. He has appeared on numerous network and cable news broadcasts as well as being quoted extensively in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He is currently a member of the ABC News Election Night Decision team.
Travis N. Ridout is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Washington State University in Pullman. His research on political campaigns and advertising has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, Political Behavior, The Annual Review of Political Science and several other journals. He also has served as an election night consultant for CBS News.