Using a survey of campaign staff we study how campaign attributes affect the representativeness of campaign messages in different communication mediums. Analyzing different communications can skew understanding about political campaigns.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the tools for conducting political campaigns have grown significantly with media ranging from TV and radio to more recently websites and e-mail. A body of research has been conducted by previous scholars about how these various forms of political communication reach voters. However, little is known about how different campaigns employ these tools and if they use them in the same way. How targeted and specialized are these different forms of communication relative to a candidate’s overall message? In order to examine this question, we conducted a survey of congressional and senatorial campaign staff in the 2014 election about how campaigns employed various means of communication such as TV, radio, print mail, and electronic advertising. We find that characteristics of political campaigns affect the choice to tailor and specialize messages in these different mediums of communication. We argue that the study of campaigns and campaign messages requires that scholars be aware of how analyzing campaigns using some forms of communication can skew understanding about the messages of political campaigns.
Nicolas Marn, ’16