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date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins by arguing for the importance of election campaigns. Next, it describes the Functional Theory of Political Campaign Discourse. Assumptions, key concepts, and predictions are discussed. The chapter then summarizes the research that has applied this theory to a wide variety of election campaign messages: US president (primary and general), non-presidential (Senate, House, gubernatorial, mayoral), non-US TV spots and debates, and news coverage of election campaigns. The three functions – acclaims, attacks, and defenses – and the two topics – policy and character – are discussed. The chapter discusses effects of campaign phase and incumbency on candidate messages. Finally, this chapter addresses limitations of this theory and directions for future research.

Keywords: Functional Theory, acclaims, attacks, defenses, policy, character, election campaigns, candidate messages, incumbency, campaign phase

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