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An Aggregate Examination of the Backlash Effect in Political Advertising: The Case of the 1996 U.S. Senate Race in Minnesota

Amy E. Jasperson and David P. Fan
Journal of Advertising
Vol. 31, No. 1, Political Advertising (Spring, 2002), pp. 1-12
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4189203
Page Count: 12
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An Aggregate Examination of the Backlash Effect in Political Advertising: The Case of the 1996 U.S. Senate Race in Minnesota
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Abstract

This study investigates the "dual effects" of negative political information. Research in negative political advertising indicates that negative ads can have intended effects, harming the target of such attacks, or they can boomerang, thereby harming the sponsor (or the opponent of the target) of such advertising. These investigations have commonly been undertaken in an experimental or quasi-experimental setting, exposing subjects to a few isolated advertisements. This study examines advertisements in the context of a real-world campaign setting and utilizes advertising buy data for the entire campaign, which allows for the more accurate construction of messages available in the information environment over time. Advertising messages sponsored by candidates and parties are then analyzed to determine their relationship to a relatively dramatic shift in Republican candidate Rudy Boschwitz's favorability with the public. Findings indicate that, in addition to the intended impact of Paul Wellstone and Democratic Farmer-Labor Party ads against Boschwitz, unintended consequences of National Republican Senatorial Committee ads against Wellstone made a significant contribution to understanding variation in candidate Boschwitz's favorability with the public over time.

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