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Political Campaign Communication: Principles and Practices 7th Ed.
Transcript of Political Campaign Communication: Principles and Practices 7th Ed.
Image and Campaign Style
Technology and Campaign Style Preliminary Considerations Campaign Styles are sets of communication strategies employed at times by all candidates, whether they run for president, mayor, governor, or legislator.
Those who hold office may campaign in the manner of those who do not, just as those who challenge may adopt strategies of incumbency.
Those candidates who are incumbents are not restricted to a specific set of incumbency strategies any more than challengers are confined to a particular set of challenger strategies
As campaign season gets longer: no one strategy is likely to remain appropriate for the duration. Styles and Strategies of Campaigns A Merger of Styles Incumbent/Challenger Challenger campaigning is not easy because the style demands a two-step process, the implementation of which requires not only a good deal of deliberate planning but also equal portions of skill and luck.
The style can be defined as a series of communication strategies designed to persuade voters that change is needed and that the challenger is the best person to bring about this change. Style
For many years, style has been studies by scholars interested in customs and rules governing use of language
More recently, communication theorists have argued that style should not be lmited to the language but ought to be considered a quality pervading all elements of communication Style is a manner of campaigning that can be recognized by the characteristics defining it and giving it form. Image and Campaign Style Imagery
First image driven campaign in the US
1840 "Whig" Party
Martin Van Buren V. William Henry Harrison
pp. 71-72 Political Images are more complex than the strategies devised to present a candidate to voters Images should also be considered in terms of the impressions voters have--what they believe to be true or untrue, desirable or undesirable about the candidates and the campaign Allan Louden Doctoral Dissertation Construction of image in television spot commercials Beliefs voters have about candidates are based on the interaction of interdependence of what candidates do and the evaluative reponses voters have to it: a "transaction between a candidate and a voter." Strategies used by candidate v. ideas already believed by the voter. Is one more important to the creation of persona than the other?
Is one more likely to influence voter behavior than the other? One dimension does not necessarily play a more pivotal role than the other Vietnam War 1972, War on Terror 2004, Economy 2008 A single and Dramatic Campaign Event can tip the scale one way or another.
Gary Hart 1988
Ferraro and Palin, gender We share a lot of beliefs about the personal qualities candidates ought to possess--especially presidential candidates.
These characteristics are strongly associated with voting preferences and, in most cases, dominate ideas (cognitions) about the candidates and the campaign. The reason for 2 common campaign activities becomes clear.
1) Determine just what attributes voters believe are ideal for the office sought.
2) Campaign activities in later stages are designed to attempt to illustrate that the candidate possesses these qualities. Assessment of a candidates behavior is a significant factor in voting behavior
Most characteristics voters believe to be important for presidential candidates to possess remain constant.
1996-2000, slight change in two areas:
capability to talk about problems facing country was less important to them in 2000 than in 1996
interpersonal characteristics more important in 2000 than in 1996
In every case, across race, gender, age: subjects preferred the most physically attractive candidates. Technology and Campaign Style During the earliest period of our electoral system, the style of political campaigning was, at least in part, defined by the limits of our transportation system.
This is one of the reasons that there were no national political campaigns as we think of them today. pp. 77-77 2 early factors: transportation and telegraph (1835)
1848 Presidential campaign, 2 yr war w/Mexico
first consequences for "election gaffes" in voting
1884, p. 77 Radio
1921 Warren Harding
by 1928, Herbert Hoover 7 radio speeches campaign focal point
1936, 1940, 1944 FDR TV 1941 beginning of televised broadcasts
First electronic computer 1942
color TV 1951
portable video recorders 1968
microelectronic chips 1970
fiber-optic signal transmission in 1975
popularity of home computers 1980
use of cable TV 1984
widespread use of videocassettes/satellite transmissions 1988
use of online computer networks and bulletin boards 1992
candidate listservs and online homepages 1996
interactivity with voters on candidate websites 2000
widespread use of social media websites 2008 TV, like radio, increased # of campaign strategies available because candidates no longer had to be dependent on extensive national speaking tours to become well-known to the public Television, unlike radio, enhanced campaign swings by showing parts of them in evening news broadcasts
Not only did a tv campaign provide candidates with more exposure, but it also allowed for more flexibility in the management of physical and financial resources. [HR Haldeman memorandum/ Nixon '68 pp. 78-79 Computer information processing & web-based interaction between candidates and voters since 2000 election September 15, 1987 "Presidential Campaign Hotline" Instead of a candidate simply stating a position on an issue to a mass audience during a television speech, debate, or interview, today's candidates can ask a question and invite comments.
This rapid and somewhat personal interaction allows candidates the opportunity to reposition their ideas and encourages voters to modify or change their beliefs regarding the candidate.
Incumbents and challengers alike can have the benefits of person-to-person campaigning without ever leaving the campaign trail.
The determination of public opinion on a given issue is no longer subject to the intervention of a third party. Mass media campaigning has, in effect, become true 2-way communication. 1992-2000, major TV networks cut $$ to early campaign coverage
new coverage: nontraditional popular media picks up the slack..."softer" campaigning
but smaller outlets also broke stories
Clinton and Paula Jones 1992
cable news networks: FoxNews, CNN, MSNBC
Partisan news coverage
3 factors contributing to increasing public distrust of press 1996: Candidates recognize the potential of local news NH: candidates do satellite interviews with anchors and reporters of local stations rather than with network commentators and journalists, why?
p. 81 Incumbency Style
"symbolic resource"; "rose garden strategy"
Incumbency campaigning is a blend of both symbolic and pragmatic communication strategies designed to make any candidate appear both as good enough for the office sought and as possessing the office (an assumed incumbency stance). Not an easy task, but worth the effort
Incumbents tend to win
20th century, only 5 presidents lost reelection bids
2000 election 98% success
2010: 87% and that was considered a rebellion in the press. Symbolic Strategies
The presidency can be thought of as a focus of impressions and beliefs that exist in our mind. myth of the office
--a kind of "collage of images, hopes, habits, and intentions shared by the nation who legitimizes the office and reacts to its occupants." Symbolic Trappings of the Office
transmit the absolute strength and importance of the office
Those who have campaigned against a president have objected to the continual and conscious use of devices that remind voters that they are seeing and hearing "the president." Legitimacy of the Office
The 2nd strategy involves not so much what incumbents do--that is, the use of specific tangible symbols to remind voters of their power--but an intangible toold that only they possess and about which their challengers cannot even object. Competency and the office
Another intangible tool that comes with the office. The presidency stands for competency; therefore, the person who holds the office can easily convey that impression.
Every year since WWII, every president has been ranked by US citizens as one of the 10 most admired persons in the world. Charisma is retained
Dependent on the ability of the office to transfer its persona to the incumbent.
pomp and circumstance
magnificence, awe Pragmatic Strategies of incumbency
more universal than symbolic counterparts
can be employed by candidates who are neither presidents nor,
even, in some cases, incumbents
borrowing the "mantle and style" of the incumbent
p. 88 Creating Pseudoevents
As the use of public relations experts and publicists has increased in political campaigns, so, to, has the frequency of hyped or manufactured news.
Pseudo-events are defined as occurrences that differ from "real" events in that they are planned, planted, or incited for the primary purpose of being reported or reproduced. While all candidates use pseudo-events to try to capture media attention, incumbents have more success because they are in a better position to create them.
Incumbents also are better equipped to control the kind of coverage they receive. Why? Making appts. to jobs and
The ability to appoint personal or political friends, potential friends
to local, state, federal jobs, party committees Advantages to patronage:
1) allows candidates to reward those who have helped them in the past
2)it creates potential friends/puts people in position of gratitude
3)places supporters in key positions that may well be important in later stages of the campaign or even in subsequent elections. Creating special task forces
One way to speak to voters concerns is to create a special task force to investigate issues/problems: why advantageous??? Appropriating Funds/Grants
no other strategy is more powerful than appropriating special funds to cooperative/supportive public officials for their city/states Consulting with world leaders
employed by candidates as they attempt to build their credentials for reelection Strategy of both incumbents and challengers
Challengers must also build credentials and convey a sense of their individual importance.
A trip abroad is virtually a prereq for presidential contenders. Manipulating important domestic issues
Bush I examples p. 94 Receiving Endorsements from other leaders
Endorsement by respected leaders signifies that the candidate is already part of their group and should therefore be thought of as a leader--credibility by association. Equally important for incumbent
can backfire: Nixon and the teamsters/Hoffa Emphasizing Accomplishments
One of those strategies forming the core of the incumbency style is emphasizing accomplishments during their term of office if they are incumbents or in some related aspect of public service if they only assume the style
This strategy is simple as long as the deeds exist. The difficulty occurs when there have been few accomplishments or when major problems have arisen that overshadow positive contributions. When this happens, the strategy becomes more complex in that the incumbent must either deny that the current problems are important ones or blame them on someone else--even on uncontrollable forces. Scapegoating is the path normally chosen...variation on the accomplishment strategy.
Most commonly used by members of Congress, House of Reps.
the paradox of running for office in the US, running against government while running for government. Creating an image of Being Above the Political Trenches
At the center of incumbency style is the technique in which candidates try to create the image that they are somehow removed from politics 1) Appear to be aloof
2)Fail to acknowledge opponent(s)
3)Sustain political silence Who pioneered this style?
Who first broke from this style? Using Surrogates on the Campaign Trail
It is possible for candidates to assume an above-politics posture because others are overtly campaigning for them while they stay at home being nonpolitical
The "Rose Garden" and use of "surrogates" is a direct descendant of the "front porch" campaigns of the late 19th and early 20th century. What were they?
pp. 99-100 Interpeting or Intensifying Foreign Policy Problems into International Crises
Mostly used by Presidents:
Purpose: To create enough of a crisis situation so that voters (either because of patriotism or not wanting to change leaders at the time of an emergency) will be motivated to rally around the president.
1964 Gulf of Tonkin, Johnson
1975 Mayaguez US Merchant ship captured by Cambodian Forces, Ford
Carter 1980 Iran hostage crisis: surfacing and primary stages of 1980 campaign--combined use of surrogates, a nonpolitical image, international crises to promote re-nomination Summary
These, then, are strategies that comprise the incumbency style. There are, as we have seen, a large number of them--each somewhat different from, although often dependent on, the others and each potentially effective in the hands of candidates who understand and appreciate their power. Disadvantages to incumbency style
Four major disadvantages
1) incumbents must run on their record
incumbent can be kept in a position of having to justify and explain--answering rather than charging, defending rather than attacking
2)The public may blame them for all problems--whether or not they are at fault.
3)The challenger is free to campaign, but incumbents must at least give the appearance of doing the job for which they have been elected. As campaign seasons become longer, this becomes more difficult
4)Because incumbents are the center of media attention far more than their opponents, expectations are great regarding their "front-runner" status. Strategies include:
Attacking the record of opponents
Taking the offensive position on issues
Calling for a Change
Emphasizing optimism for the future
Speaking to traditional values rather than calling for value changes
Appearing to represent the philosophical center of the political party
Delegating personal or harsh attacks in an effort to control demagogic rhetoric Those who challenge must try to emphasize whatever accomplishments they have had in public life and appear to be acquainted with other leaders, and have a clear need to use whatever means available to them to gain the attention of the media.
Events may, from time to time, compel incumbents to borrow strategies more frequently associated with the challenger. Challenging the Record one of the most important benefits
the challenger possesses.
occurs even when predominant public perception
of incumbent is positive
displace credit for them
never mention them
turn them into potential problems Taking the offensive position
on issues probing, questioning, challenging, attacking, but never
presenting concrete solutions for problems.
the more detailed they become in offering solutions, the
material they provide to be attacked themselves.
Goldwater & McGovern Calling For Change Dominant characteristic of those who challenge
If a change is unnecessary then so is the challenger Emphasizing Optimism About the Future If existing conditions are so bad, can they ever be better?
reliance on the positive, hope and faith in the future, optimism Speaking to Traditional Values Even though the overall challenger style is dominated by a call for redirection or change, does not mean a redefinition of values. In fact, just the opposite. Successful challengers must reinforce majority values instead of attempting to forge new ones. They must have some understanding of the way in which people view themselves and their society--some understanding of the current tenants of the American dream. 1972 George McGovern Appearing to Represent the Philosophical Center Successful challengers have been ideological representatives from the mainstream of the major parties or they have tried to appear as though they were
exceptions: Barry Goldwater and George McGovern
sometimes this strategy gets blocked by the incumbent or opposing candidate
Reagan v. Mondale 1984
Bush v. Dukakis 1988 Delegating Personal or Harsh Attacks Although attack remains a central imperative of the challenger style,
successful candidates, themselves, do not engage in demagogic rhetoric.
challengers leave harsh or vitriolic language to running mates, surrogate speakers, or their television advertising and printed materials.
Demagoguery is never viewed as an asset and normally backfires for the challenger who employs it. Prominent Characteristics Abandonment of the essential purpose or thrust
or incumbent or challenger rhetoric and abandonment of the responsibilities each has.
Most candidates will use strategies of both from time to time, but most do not truly blend
Reagan: Successful; Gore: ultimately unsuccessful