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Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. 01 Nov '10 12:45
    Every year around this time, the airwaves are deluged with millions of political ads. Almost all of them follow the same general script.

    But then I noticed how in the Kentucky race, Paul has not lost any ground following that incident where a protester was assaulted by Paul's campaign workers -- something that was widely covered for a few days. And yet even this had no impact (if anything Paul has gained ground since then.)

    So if this incident went in one ear and out the other -- why would any campaign ads (which don't show anything nearly as upsetting as someone being stomped on the head) have any impact? Especially given the cookie-cutter quality most of these ads have.

    Is there any real scientific evidence (that controls for confounding variables) that campaign ads have a significant impact on an election once people have become familiar with the candidates? Or is it one of these things where "everyone knows" that spending huge amounts of money on campaign ads, especially negative ads, makes a difference?

    What if it turned out that what "everyone knows" is wrong?
  2. 01 Nov '10 12:53 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Melanerpes
    Is there any real scientific evidence (that controls for confounding variables) that campaign ads have a significant impact on an election once people have become familiar with the candidates? Or is it one of these things where "everyone knows" that spending huge amounts of money on campaign ads, especially negative ads, makes a difference?
    The authors of Freakonomics (Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner) certainly argued that campaign spending (in general, not solely on advertising) had a near-negligible impact on the outcome of elections. David Brooks commented a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times that:

    "Political scientists have tried to measure the effectiveness of campaign spending using a variety of methodologies. There is no consensus in the field. One large group of studies finds that spending by incumbents makes no difference whatsoever, but spending by challengers helps them get established. Another group finds that neither incumbent nor challenger spending makes a difference. Another group finds that both kinds of spending have some impact."

    The whole article is worth reading:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/opinion/19brooks.html?_r=1
  3. 01 Nov '10 13:19 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    The authors of Freakonomics (Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner) certainly argued that campaign spending (in general, not solely on advertising) had a near-negligible impact on the outcome of elections. David Brooks commented a couple of weeks ago in the New York Times that:

    "Political scientists have tried to measure the effectiveness of campaign spen hole article is worth reading:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/opinion/19brooks.html?_r=1
    I believe that the one area where the ads have an effect is when a candidate is a total unknown and the ads allow the voters to see and hear the candidate and have some idea of what their message is. But beyond that, it's waste.

    So this leads to an interesting idea that future candidates might consider.

    A candidate can declare that he will voluntarily limit the amount of money his campaign spends (including ads by supporters not directly affiliated with the campaign) to a specific (relatively low) amount -- no matter how much money the opposition spends. He can argue that studies have yet to prove that all this money makes any difference -- so why go through all the trouble of selling one's soul to the highest bidder when you can just remain true to your own values and still win the election?

    What if there was an election where a whole bunch of these candidates did this -- and won? What if the whole paradigm justifying the massive campaign donations by special interests was smashed?
  4. 01 Nov '10 15:12
    I have only one thing to say.

    Aqua Buddah!!
  5. 01 Nov '10 15:53
    I think the way media covers the canidates has a huge effect on the outcomes. I'm not so sure that ads have the same bang for the buck. Networks heap all kinds of good press on people they want to win......it becomes like a commercial but its supposed to be the news...
  6. 01 Nov '10 16:36 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by highdraw
    I think the way media covers the canidates has a huge effect on the outcomes. I'm not so sure that ads have the same bang for the buck. Networks heap all kinds of good press on people they want to win......it becomes like a commercial but its supposed to be the news...
    and almost everyone watches or listens to the network that tells them the story they already want to hear -- so everyone's biases are readily confirmed.

    But yes - I can imagine that a major candidate might be able to run a campaign with no ads at all - and just rely on media coverage to provide them with all of the "free advertising" they need to get their message out.
  7. 01 Nov '10 16:39
    They work for the naive. I hear the catch pharses at work all of the time.