In our government class this year we have discussed many different intriguing topics and had the privilege of looking in depth into the Presidential election because it is an election year. One particular topic that stuck with me was
the money and elections topic. During this class we had to look up the amount of money spent by certain candidates running for specific offices. This got me to thinking how much money was actually raised by our Presidential Candidates. I began researching this and found, according to a New York Times article, the candidates altogether have raised more than 330 million dollars for their campaigns. Among all the Candidates Barack Obama had raised the most with around 196,900,097 dollars and the leading republican was Mitt Romney 87,452,399 dollars. This led me to think about what the candidates could possibly be doing with all this money.
There is no question that successful political fundraising is critical to the success of a political campaign. With the money raised in the political fundraising, politicians will put that money into campaign ads to get their name further out there. These ads include commercials, bumper stickers, lawn posters, and many more. The significant money contributed to political campaigns is governed by campaign finance reformed laws. In a recent decision which we studied in class (2010), Citizens United v. Federal Election commission, the Supreme Court struck down previsions of legislation sponsored by Senator John McCain. The Supreme Court decision lifted limits on political fund raising and spending by corporations, unions and other none campaign groups. This lead to the creation of Super PACs which are changing the face of the 2012 presidential election by letting the PAC raise a huge sum of money and spending it for their specific candidate. With this knowledge of the large sums of money, John McCain states, “I promise you, there will be huge scandals because there is too much money washing around.”
Scandals in the political process are not necessarily new to the process itself, but in researching the fundraising money for candidates some resent scandals have headlined. The most significant scandal in the news very recently has been the case of Senator John Edwards. According to the Los Angeles Times, “In charging Edwards with six counts in violating campaign finance laws, the government says he accepted $925,000 in illegal contributions to cover up an affair and save his 2008 Presidential Campaign from scandal, and then conspired to lie about it.” This is an example of not necessarily knowing where the money being donated and raised by a candidate is going. If found guilty, Edwards could face prison time.
I talk about scandals in the political process because although we may think we are helping our candidate by donating money to their campaign, we could actually be giving them money to help cover up a wrong doing in the past or contributing to the next scandal.
The social media in our society has become so large that virtually everyone who will vote for the Presidential election owns and watches a TV. Therefore, campaign ads play a pivotal role in modern political races today because of how many people across the United States watch TV and are influenced by what they see and read throughout the different means of social media. We studied many different types of campaign ads including ones of emotion, persuasion, factual claims, and cinematic style. Also within each of these 4 categories there are positive and negative ads. The positive ads attempt to influence a general audience by using positive themes in support of the candidate and also expressing what the candidate will do to better the country. On the other hand, negative themes tend to bash other candidates by trying to exploit their mistakes in the past or by stating what the current President of the United States is doing wrong.
An example of an almost perfect campaign ad that we studied is the “Yes We Can” ad for Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign. This is a positive ad that is nearly perfect because of how it specifically targets a social media generation meaning the youth across America. It specifically targets young people by depicting celebrities that young adults know and can connect to in the ad. The ad uses emotion and cinematic style with the theme of hope and change to try and persuade the targeted audience, or young voters, to come out and vote for Obama for President. Lastly, it also uses music to connect with the young voters across America, trying to relate and motivate them to come out and vote for Obama for President.
Although there are many positive ads by candidates when running for presidency, we also studied the negative campaign ads that bash the other candidates and or the current President. Candidates will do anything to get the upper hand on the Presidency race with negative campaign ads that air on social media networks. In our studies of Campaign ads, we debated whether these negative adds truly hurt the candidate that is being bashed or if they backfire, hurting the candidate allowing the ad to air. Ultimately, it goes both ways. The youth across America can be highly influenced by what is aired on social media outlets, therefore negative campaigning can be persuasive and very effective with the youth across America. On the other hand, older and wiser citizens of the United States tend to see right through these negative ads making them think lesser of the candidate airing them. This particular negative ad is an ad on Newt Gingrich supported by Ron Paul. This particular negative ad is a very well put together ad because of the way it persuades to make the audience question the ethical behavior of Newt Gingrich. The ad will tend to anger many Americans as it emphasizes how Newt Gingrich used his political influence to increase his net worth. Interestingly enough the audience doesn’t even realize until the end that this ad is ultimately an ad for Ron Paul.
Are campaign ads friends or foes? Ultimately, they can be both. Throughout our studies of Campaign ads, in my opinion, I personally believe that Campaign ads on social media outlets are very important aspect to the Presidential election and can be very influential in this day and era. In today’s world almost all Americans rely on social media as one of their main sources for information and are truly influenced by what they see and read on these various outlets. If a campaign ad contains the critical qualities of emotion, persuasion, factual claims, and cinematic style then they will be believable, whether positive or negative.