The Effects of Technological Distortions on Voter Reactions to Televised Political Advertising
Lynda Lee Kaid Yang Lin University of Oklahoma
Gary A. Noggle Bethel College
Voters in the 1996 presidential campaign were confronted with two major party presidential candidates, each of whom seemed to be trying to "outnegative" the other. Both candidates certainly succeeded in producing a large number of negative ads, the contents of which were in some ways technologically sophisticated and unusually manipulative. As mentioned by Kaid and Tedesco (chap. 15, this volume), both the Dole and Clinton campaigns had very high percentages of negative ads. These negative spots, which previous research has shown are particularly likely to contain technological distortions ( Kaid, 1996b, 1996c), made up the great majority of images most voters will remember from the 1996 campaign. The concern addressed by the research reported in this chapter is how dominant such technological distortions were in 1996 and whether or not such techniques affected how voters actually judged the candidates.
Few dispute the dominance of the presidential campaign process achieved by political advertising in the past few decades ( Kaid, 1996a). Candidates for president now spend well over half of their campaign budgets on the production and airing of televised political spots ( Devlin, 1989), and the