The Spectacle of U.S. Senate Campaigns

The Spectacle of U.S. Senate Campaigns

by Kim Fridkin Kahn, Patrick J. Kenney
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691005052

ISBN-13: 9780691005058

Pub. Date: 07/01/1999

Publisher: Princeton University Press

This book offers a bold, comprehensive look at how campaigns actually work, from the framing of issues to media coverage to voters' decisions. In so doing, it challenges the common wisdom that campaigns are a noisy, symbolic aspect of electoral politics, in which the outcomes are determined mainly by economic variables or presidential popularity. Campaigns, the

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Overview

This book offers a bold, comprehensive look at how campaigns actually work, from the framing of issues to media coverage to voters' decisions. In so doing, it challenges the common wisdom that campaigns are a noisy, symbolic aspect of electoral politics, in which the outcomes are determined mainly by economic variables or presidential popularity. Campaigns, the authors argue, do matter in the political process. Examining contested U.S. Senate races between 1988 and 1992, Kim Kahn and Patrick Kenney explore the details of the candidates' strategies and messages, the content, tone, and bias of the media coverage, and the attitudes and behaviors of potential voters. Kahn and Kenney discover that when the competition between candidates is strong, political issues become clearly defined, and the voting population responds.

Through a mix of survey data, content analysis, and interviews, the authors demonstrate how competition influences serious political debates in elections. Candidates take stands and compare themselves to their opponents. The news media offer more coverage of the races, presenting evaluations of the candidates' positions, critiques of their political careers, and analyses of their campaign ads. In response, the voters pay closer attention to the rhetoric of the candidates as they learn more about central campaign themes, often adjusting their own voting criteria. The book concentrates on Senate races because of the variance in campaign strategy and spending, media coverage, and voter reactions, but many of the findings apply to elections at all levels.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691005058
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/01/1999
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures ix

List of Tables xi

Acknowledgments xiii

PART ONE: UNDERSTANDING AND MEASURING CAMPAIGNS 1

One The Nature of Political Campaigns 3

Two Measuring the Content and Consequences of Political Campaigns 30

PART TWO: THE CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES OF CANDIDATES 41

Three In Order to Win: An Examination of Campaign Strategies 43

Four Attack Politics: Understanding the Determinants of Negative Campaigning 74

PART THREE: THE NEWS MEDIA'S COVERAGE OF CAMPAIGNS 99

Five Deciding What Is News: The Media's Coverage of Senate Campaigns 101

Six The Struggle for Control over the News Media's Agenda: How Candidates Influence the Content and Tone of News Coverage 133

PART FOUR: CITIZENS' REACTIONS TO CAMPAIGNS 161

Seven The Dynamics of Competition: The Impact of the Candidates and the News Media 163

Eight Citizens' Knowledge about U.S. Senate Campaigns 174

Nine How Voters Make Decisions in U.S. Senate Campaigns 206

PART FIVE: CONCLUSIONS 233

Ten Conclusions and Implications 235

Appendixes 245

A. Interview Schedule for Successful Incumbents 247

B. Political Advertising Code Sheet 251

C. Sample of Newspapers 255

D. Newspaper Content Analysis Code Sheet 257

References 263

Index 275

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