The Impact of Images in 2012 Presidential Advertising

by Amanda Raimer

Widener University American Government Student

A New York Times article, “Images, Themes and Props in Presidential Campaign Ads”, listed statistics about the kinds of subjects that were contained in the different ads for each party and how they were used in the ads. While many of the statistics were similar between the parties, there were a few that were glaringly different. For instance, only 1% of Obama’s campaign ads show “tears or visually sad” subjects, while 21% of Romney’s ads focused on this pertaining mostly to unemployment and taxes. This makes sense in that Obama is attempting to focus on the positive parts of his past four years and reminding people of their hardships will remind them that it was under during his presidency that these things happened; Romney is using these hardships against Obama to convince voters they don’t want another four years like the past four.

Another drastic difference showed in the number of ads that focused on the elderly, with Obama having 38 ads and Romney only having two. I thought this was interesting because senior citizens are normally thought to be majority Republicans, so then why didn’t seniors appear in more of those ads? It is possible that the Romney campaign believes they have already secured the vote of the elderly and don’t want to waste money, but the Obama campaign is trying to sway more elderly to vote Democrat and so includes more seniors in their ads so that this population feels included under the Obama administration.

One statistic that I thought was interesting was that Obama not only used the American flag in his ads 5 times as much as Romney, but he also made the flag appear in a positive light, while Romney sometimes showed the flag as damaged or burning. In this case I think that Obama has the right idea on this strategy. Romney is trying to show that under Obama we are not safe and the country is disintegrating, but at the same time he should try to also use the flag in a positive light while talking about the American future under his presidency. I feel like positive and progressive outlooks are more effective than just looking at the past and only talking about what went wrong in the past.

Overall these statistics showed me how the candidates use different subjects to evoke certain emotions in their audiences. Even the same subject matter can be utilized to provoke very different reactions depending on the context. This article gave me insight into what the candidates are most concerned about and their strategies for dealing with those issues.

Are Debates Really Important?

by Danny Griffin

Widener University American Government Student

Television debates were first introduced in 1960 and have played a significant part in the election process.  Voters have felt that they can learn much more about a candidate from watching him on TV than reading about him in a newspaper article. However, some people feel that news organizations downplay the role of debates in elections. An interesting theory behind the lack of “hype” is that it is much more exciting for viewers to discover a story from the unexpected than for people to get what they expect. The author of an article regarding the current presidential debates calls the phenomenon “Hype against Hype” (CSMonitor).

Regardless of media ploys, the debates are a good source of information for voters to inform themselves on the candidates they will be choosing between. Personally, I know that I am not well versed in the finer points of Obama or Romney’s campaign platforms. By watching tonight’s debate I will be able to make a more enlightened decision with more confidence. I am also sure that I am not the only American in my position; debates are a major pillar of campaign momentum. Therefore, many people such as myself will be compelled to watch and develop a better understanding of the upcoming political situation.

More of the Same? Or Romney’s 50 Nation Plan?

by Tori Remondelli

Widener University American Government Student

The first presidential debate was between an eloquent, enthusiastic speaker who beat around the bush and a supposed lock for the presidency who didn’t prepare as well as he should have. Mr. Romney, former governor of what he made out to be the best state in America, wants to give more power to each individual state in an effort to try and make them a little more like Massachusetts. It wasn’t very clear what Mr. President’s counter proposal was, so we can assume that nothing will change.

My mother who is a born and bred Republican believes that if you don’t like the way your state is run, then you should be able to move to a different state where the control will be different. But if the government sets regulations that every state must abide by, then you have no choice but to throw your vote into a pool of every American voter and pray you pick the same as the majority.

What I got from that debate was a choice between President Change’s same old ways or Romney’s 50 Nations policy. However, neither provided the details of their plan.  A choice is only as good as the reasons behind it and right now neither one of the candidate have provided enough reasons to merit one. Hopefully the next debate will bring more clarity, but only time will tell.

Federalism & the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate

Unlike the first presidential debate which included a number of issues relating to federalism and state and local politics – the VP debate did not address federalism. There was no real debate on education, medicaid or the health care reform. Consequently – we’ll have to wait until next Tuesday to discuss the issues related to this blog.

Using Super PACs to End Super PACs?

by Amanda Raimer

Widener University American Government Student

An article in the New York Times, “’Super PACs’ Finally a Draw for Democrats”, discusses how more donors are coming forward and giving large sums of money to the super PACs that support Democrats, like Priorities USA. However, they found that these newcomers were not the same categories of people who donated in the 2008 campaign, but instead are centralized to “pre-Obama” Democratic supporters such as trial lawyers, unions, and Hollywood. They also found that many of the new donors had previously been wary of super PACs as a source of unlimited funds and did not want to support these groups they felt were abusing the loophole developed in the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.  Now, however, these people feel like the only way to shut down these super PACs is to use that power to elect officials who will change the law to eliminate these groups.

While the amount of money raised by super PACs shows that Republicans have been exploiting this track more than the Democrats, attempting to raise over three times as much money, I’m not sure that this tactic will take down the super PACs, it may make them more powerful than they already are. Giving money to these super PACs increases their power and pull in the campaign, and I think that officials, regardless of political party, will have a hard time giving up such a large source of money without being forced. Also, these groups are so important to the Republican campaigns that any campaign finance reform involving taking away super PACs will not get enough support in our federal government to establish a new policy. Giving money to these super PACs in an effort to get rid of them seems to only strengthen them further and establish an even more critical role for these groups in campaign finance.

A Different Perspective on Presidential Personality

by Bridget Hicks

Widener University American Government Student

As a whole, the country expects a leader to possess the quality of extroversion. How can a leader perform their duties by being introverted (What if Introverts Ruled the World? By Richard Stengel)?

Candidates in the presidential race are always supporting their cause at rallies or events while those who are voted into the presidency attend various social events and gatherings while they continuously work with others to lead the country. The thing people wonder would be if this is possible to do being a introvert. It is possible.

In fact both candidates in this 2012 presidential race, President Obama as well as Mitt Romney, are mainly introverted. By no means does this label them as unsocial or incompetent in social situations but it means they are more comfortable in social situations where they are around close friends or coworkers instead of large crowds of people whom they do not know. In this they may choose to be alone for a while to make a decision rather than being surrounded by others while they try to ponder an idea.

With this in mind, the typical idea that a president must be extroverted is indeed untrue. A president can do great things for the country and go against the “norm” by being introverted, just as the two presidential candidates are for this 2012 race.