HGov: Persuasive Campaign Techniques

Political Campaigning

Political campaigns use a number of persuasive techniques in an attempt to influence the opinions of voters. The more you know of these techniques, the better you will be at analyzing political advertising.

Name-calling uses personal attacks on an opponent to distract voters from the real issues of the campaign. The goal is to inspire doubts about the opponent’s fitness for office by appealing to people’s fears or prejudices.

Transfer uses symbols or images that evoke emotion to something unrelated, such as a candidate or proposition.

Bandwagon creates the impression that “everyone” supports a cause or candidate. This technique plays on people’s desire to conform or climb on the bandwagon, rather than be left behind.

Plain folks uses folksy or everyday images and language too show that the candidate is a regular person who understands the needs and concerns of the common people.

Testimonials is using a well-known celebrity or personality endorse a candidate or proposal. The hope is that voters will follow the celebrity’s example without questioning his or her qualifications to make such a judgement.

Card-stacking is presenting facts, statistics, and other evidences that support only one side of the argument.

Glittering generalities uses vague, sweeping statements that appeal to voters emotionally, but do not actually say much of anything specific. Candidates and proposals are often described in lofty terms.

Political advertisements usually fall into two groups. The first group deals with issues, the second with images. Ads in either group can be positive or negative. Positive ads are aimed at making you like or respect a candidate, while negative ads are designed to make you dislike or fear his or her opponent. 

Positive issue ads promote a candidate’s position on topics calculated to appeal to voters. Negative issue ads, on the other hand, criticize the opponent’s stand on issues of importance to voters.

A positive image ads might show the candidate as a selfless public servant, a strong leader, or someone who cares about ordinary people. The candidate might be portrayed as a hero or as just “plain folk.” In contrast, a negative image ads might portray the opponent as weak, inexperienced, or lacking in integrity. Often negative ads include unflattering photographs of the opposition candidate. The desired effect is to convince voters that this person is somehow unfit for public office.

1) Candidate Campaign Commercial – due Wednesday 11/4



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