|Since the end of the Democratic and Republican national conventions, both the Kerry and Bush campaigns have launched ads aimed at reaching voters in swing states and the remaining undecided voters. How does each campaign know what ad message will appeal to certain voters -- and whether or not these ads succeed in reaching the targeted groups? An expert answers your questions about campaign advertising.|
Hough of New York, N.Y., asks:
Every time President Bush signs legislation, makes an announcement from the White House Rose Garden, meets with foreign leaders, etc., he receives media coverage. I believe this gives him -- or any incumbent -- an unfair advantage over his challenger.
Shouldn't the president's "free" airtime be considered when comparing ad spending by the two campaigns? How does an incumbent president's "free" airtime impact his campaign's media strategy -- and that of his opponent? Thanks.
Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson responds:
Were we to develop such a measure, I wouldn't start with the assumption that all news coverage benefits the person covered. News coverage is a mixed blessing for an incumbent president. What he does and says has news value so he doesn't have to fight for access. But news also relays information about job loss/gain and successes and failures in the war in Iraq. And since the Democrats focused much of their attack in the primaries on President Bush, their message gained some advantage in news during that time as well.
One big advantage of constant reporting is a heightened public
sense of the person who is president. A challenger needs to spend ad dollars to
attain what the incumbent already has. But some of the impressions reinforced
a president signs legislation that moved through Congress with wide bipartisan
support, the coverage is favorable. But when the debate was sharp and divided
along party lines, the dissent is likely to be featured in