Effects of political advertising in the 2008 presidential campaign

Lynda Lee Kaid, Juliana Fernandes, David Painter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Political advertising remains the communication format that dominates presidential campaign budgets. In 2008 Obama's success in fund-raising resulted in record expenditures on political television advertising. This experimental study tested the effects of viewing a sample of Obama and McCain ads with 1,165 young citizens at 19 locations throughout the United States. Results indicated young citizens learned significantly more about the issue positions of both McCain and Obama than they learned about their personal qualities when viewing the ads. Whereas viewing the ads also resulted in a significant increase in the evaluation of Obama, evaluations of McCain significantly decreased after viewing. Viewing the ads significantly increased levels of political information efficacy, making young citizens more confident that they possessed the information and knowledge necessary to participate in the political system. The experiments also isolated gender differences that suggested young female citizens learned more about the candidates' issues and personal qualities than did males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-456
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Barack Obama
  • John McCain
  • gender
  • political advertising
  • political information efficacy
  • political learning
  • presidential campaigns
  • young voters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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