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date: 13 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Communications from election candidates, officeholders, and government programs often project an air of candor and forthrightness. In reality, however, they are invariably intentional and strategic – constructed to promote campaigns, sell legislation, and explain benefits and fees to constituents. This chapter traces two seminal developments of modern political communication. First, political strategy has become enormously more sophisticated to exploit vulnerabilities in the ways individuals process information and form evaluations. Second, the nature of political communications itself has qualitatively changed. Political communications are typically equated with “situational framing” - the intentional efforts of political actors to target individuals within specific situations and moments of time. We now live in an era increasingly defined, however, by institution-based communications and framing. This chapter addresses two elements: the substantial expansion of the White House’s administrative capacity for crafted communications and the routinized and consequential messages of established policies. Institutions-based communications have, under certain circumstances, more enduring and deeper effects than situational framing.

Keywords: political communications, institutions, presidency, polling, framing, priming, policy effects

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