Racial Discourse in Political Advertisements: An Historical View
35 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 17 Mar 2015
Date Written: September 5, 2009
We explore the extent to which and the ways in which race-based messages have been used in election campaigns that feature racial minorities. We examine televised political advertisements from federal election contests where at least one of the candidates was a member of a racial minority group. In this paper, we present a descriptive account of the types of messages that have been used, differentiating between racist and racial appeals and implicit and explicit messages. We also take into consideration candidates’ parties, the region of the country in which the contests took place, the year of the election, and the specific type of appeal that was made to identify trends in racialized campaign discourse over the past three decades. Results reveal that both White candidates and minorities appeal to race, but in vastly different ways. Analysis includes discussion about the implications for research on the effects of such messages on potential voters.
Keywords: political communication, race, Black, African American, Latino, Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern, election, campaign, advertisement
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