How Television Changed Presidential Campaigns

Publication Year



Presidential Elections, Campaigns, Mass Media, democracy


American Politics | Mass Communication | Social Influence and Political Communication


This paper will begin by providing an overview of television's power to influence both through news and through advertisements including attempts by both journalists and candidates to manipulate the public. Next, it will evaluate the effects of these attempts at manipulation on the viewer and, more importantly, the voter. Once these forms of influence and their effects have been established, the paper will then focus more specifically on televisions' influence on presidential campaigns. The paper argues that television has changed presidential campaigns in three principal areas. It has changed the structure of campaigns, making primaries more important. It has changed the focus of campaigns, making the candidate more important than the party. And finally, it has changed the look of presidential campaigns, making image more important than substance. The paper will conclude by discussing the implications for future presidential campaigns and what these changes mean for democracy.

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