Seeing Spots: Partisanship, Negativity and the Conditional Receipt of Campaign Advertisements

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Authors John A. Henderson, Alexander Theodoridis
Journal/Conference Name POLITICAL BEHAVIOR
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Changes in the media landscape increasingly put voters in control of the amount and type of political content they consume. We develop a novel experiment to assess the factors that drive this conditional receipt of information. We focus on how party source and tone interact with partisanship to influence the campaign messages voters seek out or avoid, as discretion over self-exposure varies. We randomly expose subjects to comparable positive or negative television ads aired by Democratic or Republican candidates from the 2012 Presidential election, and measure subjects’ propensities to skip, re-watch and share the spots. Partisans avoid out-party ads, albeit asymmetrically: Republicans are more consistent partisan screeners than Democrats. We find more such selectivity as discretion increases, but little evidence that negativity influences self-exposure. Our findings provide greater insight into the forces behind information selectivity, and have important implications for elections in the post-broadcast era.
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R
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