This study performed content analysis on the general election TV spots from Democratic nominee Barack Obama and Republican nominee John McCain in the 2008 presidential campaign. There was no significant difference in function by incumbency, which is not surprising given that neither major party candidates was the sitting president or vice president. Unlike ads from previous years, these ads contained more attacks (65%) than acclaims (34%; and like earlier campaigns few defenses: 1%). These ads stressed policy (58%) more than character (42%). The Democratic candidate, as in previous elections, discussed policy more, and character less, than the Republican candidate. Both candidates had a tendency to discuss Democratic issues generally (and the economy and jobs in particular), but Obama stressed Democratic issues more, and Republican issues less, than McCain. This essay ends with discussion of some of the unique features of the 2008 general presidential campaign.
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Benoit, William L. and Glantz, Mark
"A Functional Analysis of 2008 General Election Presidential TV Spots,"
Speaker & Gavel: Vol. 49
, Article 2.
Available at: https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/speaker-gavel/vol49/iss1/2