Dianne G. Bystrom Iowa State University
Lynda Lee Kaid University of Oklahoma
Although many political reporters, pundits, and observers approached the 1996 presidential election with little enthusiasm, predicting a lopsided and boring race, most political communication scholars looked forward to the campaign and the research opportunities it presented. From a communication standpoint, the 1988 and 1992 presidential primary and general elections provided scholars with many interesting and new approaches to the study of campaign communication. Likewise, the 1996 election provided fertile ground to test new ideas, theories, and approaches to electronic campaign communication from various perspectives and methodologies.
To capitalize on the resources and expertise of a number of political communication scholars--and, thus, provide a well-rounded view of the 1996 electronic campaign communication--a national research team was assembled by Lynda Lee Kaid, director of the Political Communication Center at the University of Oklahoma. Political communication researchers with different and complementary interests from throughout the country and Europe were invited to participate in the project. Beginning with a meeting at the May 1996 convention of the International Communication Association, team members discussed their individual and collective research interests as well as important, timely, and emerging issues of concern to communication and political science scholars in the 1996 election cycle.
Based on these discussions, the team decided to focus its efforts on studies of news coverage of the presidential campaign, televised political advertising, presidential debates, and new campaign technologies. Interwoven throughout these