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.
"In Campaign Advertising and American Democracy , the authors do something most political scientists and historians fail to do: assume the American public is intelligent. The greatest conventional wisdom misconceptions occur due to the lack of faith political commentators and political scientists have in the American voter. The negative TV ad has gotten a bad name over the years because of the assumption that the American voter is so easy to manipulate. But, the fact is, the negative ad is a necessary reality that actually does our democracy some good, as this book so clearly argues." — Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director
"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." — Darrell West, Brown University
"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." —Morris Fiorina, Stanford University
"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." — Choice
"Franz et. al….make major new empirical contributions….(They) have blazed impressive trails in the study of campaign advertising and laid important foundations." — Political Science Quarterly
"(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." — The Journal of Politics