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Talking the Vote: Why Presidential Candidates Hit the Talk Show Circuit

Matthew A. Baum
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 49, No. 2 (Apr., 2005), pp. 213-234
DOI: 10.2307/3647673
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3647673
Page Count: 22
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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.
Talking the Vote: Why Presidential Candidates Hit the Talk Show Circuit
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Abstract

The 2000 presidential election found the major party presidential candidates chatting with Oprah Winfrey, Rosie O'Donnell, and Regis Philbin, trading one-liners with Jay Leno and David Letterman, and discussing rap music on MTV. This study investigates the impact of entertainment-oriented talk show interviews of presidential candidates, using the 2000 election as a case study. I consider why such shows cover presidential politics, why candidates choose to appear on them, and who is likely to be watching. This discussion yields a series of hypotheses concerning the effects of these interviews on public attitudes and voting behavior. I test my hypotheses through a content analysis of campaign coverage by entertainment-oriented talk shows, traditional political interview shows, and national news campaign coverage, as well as through a series of statistical investigations. I find that politically unengaged voters who watch entertainment-oriented TV talk shows are more likely to find the opposition party candidate likeable, as well as to cross party lines and vote for him, relative to their counterparts who are more politically aware or who do not watch such shows.

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