Presidential Candidate Presentation: Videostyle in the 1996 Presidential Spots
Lynda Lee Kaid John C. Tedesco University of Oklahoma
Videostyle describes the way political candidates present themselves in political advertisements. As one of the few ways in which candidates can control the message and image transmitted to the electorate, political television spots have become a significant part of the candidate-voter dynamic in political campaigns. This control becomes important when one considers that television has become the source by which most U.S. citizens receive their election information. Not only are candidates trying to control the media events covered by the news, they also are spending upwards of 50% to 75% of their campaign budgets on political ads, including production and time buying ( Patterson, 1983). Thus, candidates use television to project an image of themselves to the audience. This method of self-portrayal, identified as videostyle by Kaid and Davidson ( 1986), can be identified by using content analysis to describe the television spots of the candidates in the 1996 presidential campaigns.
Kaid and Davidson ( 1986) identified three major factors that determine a candidate's videostyle: (a) verbal content, (b) nonverbal content, and (c) video production techniques. The verbal content element of videostyle focuses on the semantic characteristics of the candidate's message. Although early researchers accused political advertising of emphasizing candidate image over issue stances, a review of recent advertising studies found that