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Freedman, Franz, and Goldstein: Campaign advertising and democratic citizenship

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Freedman, Franz, and Goldstein. 2004. Campaign advertising and democratic citizenship. AJPS 48:723-741.


Though our theories say that debates, news, speeches, and so on are all good for democracy, we often malign candidate advertisements. The authors disagree: Candidate ads also provide meaningful information, and they simultaneously provide useful emotional cues (cf. Brader 2005). People who see these ads, then, should be more informed than other people; this effect is especially strong among those who have the least information about politics to begin with.


  1. Information hypothesis: "citizens exposed to campaign advertising will actually learn something about the candidates and their messages.
  2. Engagement hypothesis: "due in part to its information-enhancing function and in part to the emotional content of much campaign advertising, ad exposure will cause people to be more interested in a particular election, more cognitively and affectively involved with the campaigns, and ultimately more likely to participate by turning out on Election Day."
  3. Differential effects hypothesis: "these effects will be greatest among those who need the information most: citizens who have lower levels of political information to begin with."



They find modest evidence in their favor: "Specifically, our findings show that exposure to campaign advertising produces citizens who are more interested in the election, have more to say about the candidates, are more familiar with who is running, and ultimately, are more likely to vote."

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Research on similar subjects


Freedman, Paul (author)Franz, Michael (author)Goldstein, Kenneth (author)American PoliticsPublic OpinionMedia EffectsElectionsCampaign Advertisements

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