Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Political Campaign Ads: Racial Appealing


            From the moment you turn on your TV, there is a strong chance that you will encounter a political campaign ad in this year’s race for governor between Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner.  Both candidates have eliminated any other politicians in the race from their interest, which is why their ads vary in either highlighting their own capability or degrading their one threatening opponent.  I have been bombarded by these ads in a quantitative abundance, but only recently have I begun to notice a prominent trend in these ads that highlights their strategic approach.  It seems that regardless of what issue is being addressed, the ads never fail to include visual elements of people of all races.  I feel that this is purposefully done in order to reach a larger voting base by causing their viewers to subconsciously feel that a candidate does not have any biased affiliation towards one particular race.
          The order of races in which the pictures are presented has caught my attention as well.  It’s evident that usually a white person is presented first, then African American, and then either Hispanic or Asian.  For example, in an ad where Rauner is criticized for the damage he has done to nursing homes, the pictures of three older women are displayed in the same particular order as I mentioned.  In another ad where Rauner is promoted, the voices of three women are heard in the same racial order as well.  To me it is not a coincidence because I have seen this carefully structured racial order on multiple occasions.  It seems that whites are being targeted first because they are known to be the most avid voters in numbers, while African Americans have quantitatively come close to voting just as much as white males and females.  Although the Hispanic population has not statistically made the most prominent impact in ballots in the past, it’s voting population has been increasing at high rates, which is why these political ads feel the need to grasp the attention of people of the Hispanic race as well.
         Certain elements help enhance the covert messages that ads impose on viewers.  During attack ads that demean another candidate, quietly depressing music is played in the background, the narrator talks in a timid voice that gives off a sense of fear, and a spotlight is often placed on negative words such as "neglected" or "abused".  Contrary to attack ads, ads that promote a certain candidate play uplifting music over the narrator speaking in a vibrant tone.  In order to strengthen their strategic approaches, these additional techniques are incorporated in political campaign ads to help spark an emotional connection in the viewer that pertains to their race.  Campaign ads are costly to not only produce, but to air as well.  With the budget they acquire, candidates aim to appeal to a large range of voters by seeming to identify their political goals to all races. 

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