▪ Abstract 

In the United States, televised political advertising is the main way that modern campaigns communicate with voters. Although political scientists have made great progress in the study of its effects in recent decades, much of that progress has come in the area of advertising's indirect effects: its impact on learning and the effect of its tone on voter turnout. This essay reviews what scholars know about how political advertising affects voter decisions, voter knowledge, and election outcomes. We argue that scholars still have a long road to travel before being able to speak definitively about whether and to what extent political advertisements are successful in achieving the goal of their sponsors: winning elections. This state of affairs may be due to the vast number of methods used to measure the key independent variable in these studies: advertising exposure. Accordingly, in the last section of the essay, we review and critique seven approaches to the study of political advertising.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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