ISU study: Power of political ads is limited

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The political advertising on your television right now is relentless.

Those campaign ads can appear to be effective, but they cannot buy an election, a new Iowa State University study suggests.

The study examined campaign ads leading up to the 2016 Iowa caucuses and found the candidates who spent more on television advertising generally received more support on caucus night. But that does not prove that’s what caused them to get more support, said Jay Newell, an associate professor of advertising in ISU’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.

“We think political advertising is all-powerful, but it’s not,” Newell said in a news release accompanying the report. “Candidates who buy the most ads tend to get the most votes, but that could be drawing conclusions from coincidence. Those leading in the polls get more resources. So the additional advertising being purchased is essentially insurance and not as much to move the meter.”

The research noted not all candidates who spent big on advertising were successful in the Iowa caucuses. The second-highest spender in the Republican caucuses was Jeb Bush; the $9.1 million he spent on TV ads yielded just 3 percent of the support on caucus night.
Read more at Sioux City Journal

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