The Campaigns Characteristics Make: Television Advertising and Changes in Presidential Campaign Perceptions



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Though other methods are growing in prominence, television advertising continues to be a significant portion of presidential campaign spending. The effects of these commercials, however, remain unclear. This dissertation suggests that a substantial component of their effect comes from their ability to shape perceptions of personal characteristics of the candidates running for president. Combining national advertising data with national polling data, this dissertation finds that the effects of candidate appeals via television vary in shaping how voters view the candidates on a personal level. Effects appear to be stronger on initial airing, and no consistent effects for repeated mentions are found. Negative advertising appears to be dangerous, as its effects are often harmful for the candidates running the ads. While no large-scale and consistent support is found for sustained advertising effects, the findings support a theory of running tally information processing and suggest that for some candidates personal appeals can be effective in shaping perceptions.