Presidential Campaign Advertising on Television
Television and politics have always been bedfellows. From the time there were enough television sets available in the homes of the public, politics has been a part of the content of daily television fare. It is not difficult to understand why politicians, officeholders and candidates alike, have found television's near-universal penetration to be irresistible.
For presidential candidates the attraction developed quickly. When television became widespread enough to justify usage ( 1952), candidates recognized that advertising their message via television provided several advantages over other communication modalities. First, television reached larger numbers of voters simultaneously than any other campaign channel. A message distributed via television would reach millions each time it was broadcast, an audience that far exceeded the reach of a single campaign speech or other organized event, a draw that was unmatched by traditional print media. Second, the message was under the complete control of the sponsoring candidate--no need to worry about what a heckler in the crowd might shout in protest, no concern about an opponent's response in a debate, no pesky journalist to question or doubt the candidate's words. Third, not just the message but also its form of presentation were controlled by the candidate and