Videostyle in Presidential Campaigns: Style and Content of Televised Political Advertising

By Lynda Lee Kaid; Anne Johnston | Go to book overview

SUMMARY

This chapter has provided an overview of presidential candidate videostyle. By looking in a summary fashion at the elements of videostyle, it is possible to see trends and patterns in all three components of videostyle. Among the most interesting findings related to verbal content of spots is that presidential candidates have focused more on issues than images, although the number of policy preferences and proposals is somewhat less than the overall emphasis on issues would suggest. Candidates also have more often focused on positive than negative spots, although recent campaigns have shown a trend toward higher percentages of negative spots, particularly Bill Clinton 1992 and 1996 campaigns. Presidential candidates also rely heavily on emotional appeals in their spots.

In terms of nonverbal components of videostyle, an important finding is that candidates do not often speak for themselves in their spots. Presidential candidates have also preferred formality in the setting of their spots and in their own dress. When they do appear in their spots, presidential candidates are usually serious/attentive in their facial expressions, not smiling.

The final component of production techniques varies considerably across the years, partly because of advancing technological developments. Spots have gotten shorter over time, candidates use a number of different formats for their productions, and the number of special effects in spots has increased in the past three election cycles.

While these findings give a composite look at presidential style in campaign spots, they do not outline particular styles that characterize individual presidents. The application of the videostyle components to individual presidents is provided in the concluding chapter of this book. The next chapter analyzes the videostyles associated with particular candidate positions, considering whether partisan affiliation or the position of incumbent or challenger affects a candidate's videostyle.

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