Content of televised political advertising: A comparative analysis of the 2000 presidential campaigns

Ying Hui Liu


Today, we live in a mass-mediated society where in both our private and group lives we depend on the mass media. It is especially true regarding today's political campaign because it is essentially a mass media campaign. Among various mass media, it is television that particularly has a major impact on political campaigns. Televised political advertising especially stands at the central stage in political campaigns. In summary, televised political advertising has changed the campaign and no one can truly understand today's politics without studying televised advertising. Therefore, this work studied televised political advertising of the 2000 presidential campaign in the United States. By analyzing candidates' political advertising, the author examined the various characteristics of the content and evaluate their cinematic strategies and values hidden in the audio and visual images. The researcher examined if there was any difference between Bush and Gore spots in terms of content, cinematic and value presentations and tried to make sense out of the differences. To achieve the research goals, several research questions were asked. A careful analysis has produced some interesting findings. This work concluded that Bush and Gore campaigns did use similar strategies on image and issue presentations. However, there were some significant differences between the two campaigns in how the two candidates emphasized positive and negative elements in advertising. There were also significant differences in how they projected their particular images. Differences were further found in the relative emphasis placed on specific values in the campaigns. Studying Bush and Gore spots, this project has confirmed that televised advertising is still a dominant medium of conveying extremely useful information to the public about a candidate's political vision and personal image. Moreover, political spots today definitely reflect the focus and spirit of candidates.