POLITICAL COMMERCIALS AND
The Effect Can Be Substantial
Donald T. Cundy
The television set has become a nearly universal feature of our society. Recent evidence indicates that almost 99 percent of all American households have at least one, and more than half have two or more (Sabato, 1981, p. 117), a penetration rate which virtually elminates the possibility of significant variation by age, race, income, or any other major demographic characteristic.
Television also seems to be perceived as a very credible source of information. Ongoing polls by the Roper organization have indicated that sometime around the middle sixties, television surpassed newspapers as the major and most trusted source of the American public's information about what's going on in the world (Roper, 1983.) At a more directly political level, the Roper polls have also shown that in the U. S., people are about two and a half times as likely to name television over newspapers as the medium through which they become most acquainted with candidates for national political office. A majority also said that TV provides the clearest understanding of the candidates and the issues (Roper, 1969; Keating & Latane, 1976).