POLITICAL ADVERTISING AND THE
MEANING OF ELECTIONS
As candidates and parties clamor for attention and vie for popular support, the people's verdict can be no more than a selective reflection from among the alternatives and outlooks presented to them. Even the most discriminating popular judgment can reflect only ambiguity, uncertainty, or even foolishness if those are the qualities of the input into the echo chamber.... Fed a steady diet of buncombe, the people may come to expect and to respond with highest predictability to buncombe. And those leaders most skilled in the propagation of buncombe may gain lasting advantage in the recurring struggles for popular favor.
—V. O. Key, The Responsible Electorate
Normatively speaking, consent from ignorance can never by genuine, no more so than conversion by the sword. Pragmatically speaking, an ignorant citizenry is dangerously unready when the time comes for choice, the key citizen choice being election.
—James David Barber, Race for the Presidency
TELEVISED POLITICAL ADVERTISING IS ONE of the major components of contemporary campaigns for public office. Television commercials consume a significant share of a campaign's financial resources and creative energies, they are being used by an increasing number of candidates for elective office, and the American public undoubtedly sees more of them than ever before. In short, the televised