Identifying the Persuasive Effects of Presidential Advertising

American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 957-977, 2007

Posted: 28 Jan 2009

See all articles by Gregory Huber

Gregory Huber

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Kevin Arceneaux

Temple University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 27, 2009

Abstract

Do presidential campaign advertisements mobilize, inform, or persuade citizens? To answer this question we exploit a natural experiment, the accidental treatment of some individuals living in nonbattleground states during the 2000 presidential election to either high levels or one-sided barrages of campaign advertisements simply because they resided in a media market adjoining a competitive state. We isolate the effects of advertising by matching records of locally broadcast presidential advertising with the opinions of National Annenberg Election Survey respondents living in these uncontested states. This approach remedies the observed correlation between advertising and both other campaign activities and previous election outcomes. In contrast to previous research, we find little evidence that citizens are mobilized by or learn from presidential advertisements, but strong evidence that they are persuaded by them.We also consider the causal mechanisms that facilitate persuasion and investigate whether some individuals are more susceptible to persuasion than others.

Keywords: Natural Experiment, Randomization, Campaign Advertising, Elections

JEL Classification: C93

Suggested Citation

Huber, Gregory and Arceneaux, Kevin, Identifying the Persuasive Effects of Presidential Advertising (January 27, 2009). American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 957-977, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1333671

Gregory Huber (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

Kevin Arceneaux

Temple University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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