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A Functional Approach to Political Advertising
Unformatted Document Text:  14 Discussion This is the first study examining the function of political discourse during the presidential campaign in 1998. By content analyzing of the total number of newspaper advertisements using the functional theory of political campaign discourse, the researcher found that acclaims (52.2%) and attacks (45.5%) were the two most common functions in the 1998 presidential advertisements. Defenses were rarely used (2.2%). In addition, policy (54%) and character (46%) were almost equally used. These findings contradict the argument that the political campaign is mostly negative (Ansolahere & Iyengar, 1995), and the campaign in driven by character, or image rather than policy, or issue (Barnhurst & Steele, 1997). The result of this study is consistent with previous findings that report that acclaims outnumber attacks, which in turn are used more often than defenses (Benoit, Pier & Blaney, 1997; Brazeal & Benoit, 2001). This ordering of functions in campaign discourse seems to be reasonable. Acclaims make candidates look desirable without the unintended effects such as voter cynicism toward politics. Attacks can lower the evaluations of the target candidates, however this function is dangerous for candidates due to its backlash effect (Jasperson & Fan, 2002). In other words, attacks can hurt the evaluations of the sponsor candidates, too. Brazeal and Benoit (2001) explain the rare use of defenses for three reasons. First, defenses make candidates discuss topics that are favorable to opponents. Second, defenses may make candidates appear weak. Third, defenses against the attacks may inform the voters of the candidates’ potential weakness.

Authors: Lee, Cheolhan. and Choi, Yun Jung.
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14
Discussion
This is the first study examining the function of political discourse during the
presidential campaign in 1998. By content analyzing of the total number of newspaper
advertisements using the functional theory of political campaign discourse, the researcher
found that acclaims (52.2%) and attacks (45.5%) were the two most common functions in
the 1998 presidential advertisements. Defenses were rarely used (2.2%). In addition,
policy (54%) and character (46%) were almost equally used. These findings contradict
the argument that the political campaign is mostly negative (Ansolahere & Iyengar,
1995), and the campaign in driven by character, or image rather than policy, or issue
(Barnhurst & Steele, 1997).
The result of this study is consistent with previous findings that report that
acclaims outnumber attacks, which in turn are used more often than defenses (Benoit,
Pier & Blaney, 1997; Brazeal & Benoit, 2001). This ordering of functions in campaign
discourse seems to be reasonable. Acclaims make candidates look desirable without the
unintended effects such as voter cynicism toward politics. Attacks can lower the
evaluations of the target candidates, however this function is dangerous for candidates
due to its backlash effect (Jasperson & Fan, 2002). In other words, attacks can hurt the
evaluations of the sponsor candidates, too. Brazeal and Benoit (2001) explain the rare use
of defenses for three reasons. First, defenses make candidates discuss topics that are
favorable to opponents. Second, defenses may make candidates appear weak. Third,
defenses against the attacks may inform the voters of the candidates’ potential weakness.


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