Candidate Images in Presidential Elections

Candidate Images in Presidential Elections

Candidate Images in Presidential Elections

Candidate Images in Presidential Elections

Synopsis

Since Nimmo and Savage's groundbreaking work, Candidates and Their Images (1976), there has been no book dedicated solely to the examination of political candidate images. This volume adds to the development of the candidate image construct initiated by Nimmo and Savage. It provides a compendium of state-of-the-art theory and research of candidate images and image formation in the U.S. presidential elections. The contributors to this work, among the best-known in the field of political communication, describe and explain how presidential election results hinge on voter perceptions of candidates and how candidates seek to construct images that attract the most votes. The volume integrates issues of voter decision-making, media messages, campaigning, debate effects, and political advertising into the development of political communication theory. It will be a valuable resource for scholars and students of political communication.

Excerpt

Those of us from the discipline of communication studies have long believed that communication is prior to all other fields of inquiry. In several other forums I have argued that the essence of politics is "talk" or human interaction. Such interaction may be formal or informal, verbal or nonverbal, public or private but it is always persuasive, forcing us consciously or subconsciously to interpret, to evaluate, and to act. Communication is the vehicle for human action.

From this perspective, it is not surprising that Aristotle recognized the natural kinship of politics and communication in his writings Politics and Rhetoric. In the former, he establishes that humans are "political beings [who] alone of the animals [are] furnished with the faculty of language." And in the latter, he begins his systematic analysis of discourse by proclaiming that "rhetorical study, in its strict sense, is concerned with the modes of persuasion." Thus, it was recognized over 2,300 years ago that politics and communication go hand in hand because they are essential parts of human nature.

Back in 1981, Dan Nimmo and Keith Sanders proclaimed that political communication was an emerging field. Although its origin, as noted, dates back centuries, a "self-consciously cross-disciplinary" focus began in the late 1950s. Thousands of books and articles later, colleges and universities offer a variety of graduate and undergraduate coursework in the area in such diverse departments as communication, mass communication, journalism, political science, and sociology. In Nimmo and Sanders's early assessment, the "key areas of inquiry" included rhetorical analysis, propaganda analysis, attitude change studies, voting studies, government and the news media, functional and systems analyses, technological changes, media technologies, campaign techniques, and research techniques. In a survey of the state of the field in 1983, the same authors and Lynda Kaid found additional, more specific areas of concerns such . . .

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