Macromarketing & Public Policy / Publication Abstract

Incivility in political advertisements: a look at the 2012 US presidential election

Mar 25, 2015

Ronald Paul Hill, Michael Capella, Yoon-Na Cho

Macromarketing & Public Policy


The 2012 presidential election reached new heights in dollars spent and the rancorous nature of advertisements emanating from candidates and other interested parties. While ‘going negative’ has become a well-known tactic in political campaigns, several observers believe that the level of acrimony crossed the line between civil discourse essential to democratic societies and uncivil haranguing that has little to do with election issues. To explore the nuances of this topic, we open with a discussion of limited cross-disciplinary research on incivility in political discourse so that its essential nature is exposed, differentiating it from more common uses of negativity. Our empirical work examined about 350 television advertisements that were shown between the presidential debates of 2012 and the November elections. Levels of civility and incivility are noted and implications for the future of political advertising are provided.

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