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Does Attack Advertising Demobilize the Electorate?

Stephen Ansolabehere, Shanto Iyengar, Adam Simon and Nicholas Valentino
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 88, No. 4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 829-838
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2082710
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Does Attack Advertising Demobilize the Electorate?
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Abstract

We address the effects of negative campaign advertising on turnout. Using a unique experimental design in which advertising tone is manipulated within the identical audiovisual context, we find that exposure to negative advertisements dropped intentions to vote by 5%. We then replicate this result through an aggregate-level analysis of turnout and campaign tone in the 1992 Senate elections. Finally, we show that the demobilizing effects of negative campaigns are accompanied by a weakened sense of political efficacy. Voters who watch negative advertisements become more cynical about the responsiveness of public officials and the electoral process.

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