Political Advertising Content and Effects
Presidential candidates face a daunting communication challenge. They must get their messages out to millions of eligible voters. This task is made more difficult by the fact that the communication is not onesided. Each candidate seeks to shape voter impressions of both his or her own qualities and policy positions and those of the opposing candidate or candidates. The candidate does this, knowing that the opponent must seek to do exactly the same. Others seek to influence this communication dialogue as well. Journalists, interest groups, business and union associations, and all kinds of other specialized voices seek to have their own chance to communicate with voters and to influence their choices.
In this competition for the attention of the voter, television does not offer any candidate a unique channel, since all the competitors have access to television. What television does offer is the unique opportunity for a candidate to communicate his or her own personal style directly to voters in a format viewed by millions simultaneously. In a national campaign, no matter how hard the candidate works, no matter how many rallies are scheduled in how many states, the candidate can meet very few voters in person. Television, more than any other medium