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Blog 3: Change in political campaigns

Political campaigns have most certainly changed since the Nixon campaign in 1968. During Nixon’s campaign, Henry Treleaven became adamant with the idea that image on television is what would make the difference for Nixon to finally pull through with a presidential win.

 Nixon’s strategy was to air still photographs in his commercials, which would prevent people from paying too much attention to Nixon’s voice. This allowed Treleaven to create an ‘image’ of Nixon, by letting the images create the impression (something new and fresh during this period of time). As an example, Eugene Jones was a documentary filmmaker who created Nixon’s commercials from still photographs and enticing music.

 This commerical (as seen on thelivingroomcandidate.com) was aired 8 days before election day. It gave the impression that Herbert Humphrey was laughing at dying soldiers in Vietnam, making this commercial a controversial and risky statement so close to the election. In a way, this was an early form of ‘attack’ media commercials, an idea that is so familiar to us in today’s time.

Political campaigns have stayed all the way to our modern times in the way that presidential candidates still strive to create an ‘image’ of themselves that will leave a lasting impression on the American people. In 2008, Republican John McCain posed a familiar commercial. Similiar to the previous Nixon commercial, McCain uses images, classical music, and a short narration to create an image for himself.

Although there are some similarities between the campaign of 1968 and modern times, there are also a vast amount of differences. With the advancement of technology, presidential candidates can afford to continuously “attack” the opposing side in their campaign commercials. As seen in the 2008p residential campaign, the majority of the candidates commercials seemed to be more focused on showing what the opposing side could not do, rather than broadcasting to the public what the individual candidates themselves would be able to do.

For example, McCain’s attack on Obama

 and Obama’s attack on McCain:

Another difference, is that in the Nixon campaign, Nixon never held an ‘official’ debate with Humphrey. Instead, Nixon held a telecast where a 6-member panel asked questions directed towards Nixon’s policies that were supposed to shed light on his campaign.This allowed Nixon to formulate answers to questions he already knew were going to be asked. However, today’s campaigns deal with several face-to-face (and what could even be called cut-throat) debates between both the presidential candidates and both the vice-presidential candidates.

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  1. March 2, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Good job. The increased prevalence of attack advertising is a good point. It’s something that we didn’t discuss in class, so you observation is a nice addition to the changes in campaigns since 1968.

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