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Blog 3: Campaigns from 1968 and on…

The presidential election of 1968 hinged on Richard Nixon being able to use the media to the best of his ability. The trend for that election had to do with marketing through the television. There was a great quote in the book The Selling of the President about the importance of television when it came to campaigning Richard Nixon, it went like this, “…Without television, Richard Nixon would not have a chance. He would not have a prayer of being elected because the press would not let him get through to the people. But because he is good on television he will get through despite the press…”

Now lets fast forward some 40 years to the last election where President Obama was elected. Television is still a great source for political campaigning but as the Internet generation moves into the 30-40 year old generation, the amount of time and money spent towards that area would also increase. To go along with this I found a quote from Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of the Huffington Post, emphasizing the importance that the Internet played in the Obama campaign. “Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be President. Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not have been the nominee.” To take that even further candidates now have the advantage of free publicity through websites such as YouTube, Facebook and twitter. I think that the sky is the limit when it comes to getting a candidates name out through the Internet. In the last election twitter hadn’t quite come into the forefront yet. I would assume now that if there were a presidential election each candidate would have his own account that would be monitored by a group of people to make sure they got the message out the right way and to the right people. When researching this topic I ran across this website that broke down the marketing strategies within the Obama campaign.

Another way that campaigning has changed since the Nixon election is how the political parties treat the new outlet’s bias. To get around biases in the ’68 election it seemed to me as if they almost blackmailed reporters to make sure that they reported it by the facts. Nowadays there are so many biases that something like that just can’t be controlled. Fox is going to make their candidate look the way that they want and vice versa with CNN. But it if we go back some 40 years we learn that there just weren’t enough news stations that could do that sort of thing so everyone saw the same coverage and formed their opinions accordingly.

Along with that comes the citizen journalist. In 1968 where you got your news was pretty limited when it came to the different outlets. With the rise of the Internet, there are now millions of people throughout the country who want to make a name for themselves by writing the next big article. I wanted to test this out so I simply went to google and typed in “Obama election”, and lo and behold 44,500,000 results came back. These articles and opinion pieces range from well-known journalists all the way down to 3rd graders writing reports for school. Obviously this isn’t something that Nixon had to worry about but when it came to Obama, he did a tremendous job of winning over the citizen journalist. This video is of Obama speaking at the RTCA (Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association) dinner. Basically what he is doing is pumping up journalists, professional and citizen, in hopes that when they write something about him they think in positive terms.

On the other end of the spectrum the parallels between the advertising of a candidate in 1968 and now in 2011 are very significant and abundant. When you look at the television aspect of the campaigning the only changes come from how everything is portrayed, other than that things to be pretty similar.

The Nixon campaign revolutionized how candidates and their entourages dealt with advertising within the campaign. Nixon’s campaign manager went as far as to hire a firm to handle their marketing and television aspects.  When we look now at how campaigning is handled it, the presidential campaigns don’t have to go out and hire an agency because they already have a whole division that specializes in marketing.

Obviously the 1968 campaign and election of Richard Nixon has changed the way that candidates put themselves out for the public. When it was finally realized how much image mattered to the voter, whether consciously or sub consciously, an enormous amount of emphasize was geared toward “selling the president”.


  1. February 26, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Good. Interesting discussion of the citizen journalist and his/her coverage of the election. Knowing that citizens are also covering the election, or facebooking or tweeting about it, definitely adds a whole new dimension to campaign strategy. But it also provides a lot of opportunity to lesser resourced candidates and causes. Look at the tea party, much of that movement is citizen based as opposed to candidate based.

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