Political ad campaigns are big business. One report notes that in 2018, a record amount of money was spent on these ads for both television and radio spots. While political ads are meant to sway the undecided and are sometimes used to show candidates in a variety of lights, they may be having more impact than you suspect. Whether you are already active in political circles, an undecided voter, or plan to run in the future, you may want to understand how campaign ads might be swaying the voting public.
1. Positive Images Invoke Positive Emotions
The average political ad uses positive images to catch the viewer’s attention and invites them to consider how that politician’s platform might create a better world. For example, those that champion a stronger economy often use images of everyday people happily working at a variety of jobs, from the manufacturing to the retail industry. This may invoke renewed hopes of the possibility of achieving the American Dream for some, while others may feel moved to vote for this individual because they have experienced unemployment and hardship in the past.
Positive campaign ads may also stir up feelings of patriotism in their viewers. Think about the last political ad you saw: how many times did the American flag appear? Did it wave in slow motion or fill nearly the entire screen? This is a common ad tactic and may especially impact older viewers and veterans, who typically have stronger patriotic ideals than those of the millennial generation.
2. Negative Ads Often Influence Independent Voters
Most Americans who feel loyal to either Democratic or Republican ideals tend to vote the straight ticket during elections and may not be overly affected by political ads. However, if you are an independent voter, then negative ads may be influencing your vote more than you realize. As a non-partisan voter, viewing negative ads can arouse feelings of fear or uncertainty regarding the candidate being discussed, especially if you do not know much about his or her platform.
While these ads can have a powerful impact, there are ways to remain objective as an independent voter. For example, if you want to know what potential future lawmakers want to change if elected, take the time to learn about their political career and whether you agree with these ideas. Learning as much as you can about a candidate can reduce the possible impact of negative political ads.
3. Images of Children May Influence Voting
If you are a parent, then you might want to take note of how political ads that feature smiling, happy children influence your emotions at the polls. These ads might affect you in several ways; for example, first, they may comfort you in the face of an uncertain future or make you feel more confident or positive about a candidate who is holding or hugging babies in an ad. This could be especially important if you are a new parent, as you may strongly identify with this individual.
Some candidates use images of children if their platform includes a great deal of education legislation, and this can be successful when it comes to prompting you to consider your children’s futures. However, it is important to remain aware of the facts for each campaign so you do not allow emotions or fear of the unknown to sway your vote.
4. Ads Are Not Likely To Change Partisanship
As polls heat up and voting times near, the frequency of political ads is likely to increase. Despite this saturation, partisanship is likely to take over and rule over any ads you might view at that point.
Remaining objective at the voting polls can be daunting, especially when you are constantly exposed to political ads. Understanding how they might affect you can make you a more informed voter and give you confidence when the time comes to fill out your ballot.