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date: 15 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Within the field of political communication, the study of political advertising has attempted to relate its content to posited effects. Most of this inquiry has been conducted using one or some combination of three methods: survey, experiment, and content analysis. As a result, a picture of what political advertising does and why and how it does it has emerged. This chapter synthesizes findings by suggesting that differences in spending on political advertising can affect vote choice; that advertising’s effect on vote choice are mediated by factors that include party affiliation, political knowledge and involvement, and media exposure; and that such advertising has a significant effect on the political process. “Negative” advertising is a messaging structure that affects the political process for ill and for good; it can both decrease and increase voter turnout but is misunderstood when conflated with informative “attack” and “contrast” advertising.

Keywords: political advertising, negative advertising, attack advertising, contrast advertising, issue advertising, vote choice, advocacy, turnout, cynicism

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