Assessing the predictability of election victory from a functional theory perspective
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This investigation utilized the Functional Theory of Campaign Discourse (Benoit, 2007) and previous content analyses of television advertisements to determine whether candidate function (positive and negative statements) and topic (policy/character) emphasis influenced election results and shifts in candidate preference. The first study demonstrated that Presidential and Senate candidate messages influenced general election results over and above that explained by incumbency and competitiveness. Gubernatorial and Senate candidate messages also influenced election results in primary competitions. The second study was a time series analysis of advertisements provided by the Wisconsin Ad study from the 2004 presidential general election and participant reports of vote intention obtained from ANES panel data. Separate time series were constructed for Kerry and Bush's average percentage of acclaims (positive statements) and policy emphasis in all ads run during the general season. Both Kerry's message series influence variation; however, neither of Bush's message strategies affected candidate preference.
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