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Air Wars

Air Wars
Television Advertising and Social Media in Election Campaigns, 1952-2016

Seventh Edition

March 2017 | 192 pages | CQ Press
Tracing the evolution of political advertising from 1952 through 2016, Darrell M. West returns with his much anticipated Seventh Edition of Air Wars: Television Advertising and Social Media in Election Campaigns, 1952-2016. Integrating the latest data and key events from the 2016 campaigns—including the most provocative presidential campaign in recent decades and the surprising victory of Donald Trump—West provides in-depth examination and insight into how candidates plan and execute advertising and social media campaigns, how the media covers these campaigns, and how American voters are ultimately influenced by them.

This new edition includes coverage of social media campaigning, nano-targeting strategies in a fragmented electorate, and thorough analysis of the 2016 presidential campaign, from the candidates’ use of Twitter to concerns over falsehoods and deception, the impact of ads and debates on candidate perceptions, and the risks to democratic elections from new campaign developments.

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Pictorial History
1. The History of Communications
From Newspapers and Television to the Internet and Social Media  
Broadcasting Strategies  
2. Effective Ads and Social Media Promotion
Principles of Advertising  
Production Techniques  
The Role of Money and Super PACs  
Effective Tweeting  
Third-Party Validation  
3. Buying Air Time and Using Social Media
The Strategies of Ad Buying  
The Study of Ad Buys  
Ad Frequency and Diversification  
Vapor Ads  
Social Media Outreach  
Targeting Strategies  
4. Messages
Substantive Content  
Prominent Ads  
The Paucity of Policy Appeals  
Shifts Over Time  
The Rise of Internet Sites  
The Rise of Negative Advertising  
The Objects of Negativity  
5. Media Coverage
The Increasing Coverage of Ads  
Horse-Race Coverage of Ads  
“Daisy,” “Daisy II,” and the “Revolving Door”  
Swift Boat Veterans Ads  
2008 Ads  
2012 Ads  
2016 Ads  
6. Learning About the Candidates
Citizens’ Knowledge and Evaluations of Candidates  
The Impact of the Campaign  
Ads and the Vote  
7. Setting the Agenda
The Media’s Role in Agenda Setting  
Policy and Campaign Components of the Agenda  
The Influence of Individual Ads  
A Fixed Agenda  
A Fluid Agenda  
It’s Still the Economy, Stupid!  
Shifting the Focus  
A Chaotic World  
8. Playing the Blame Game
Blame Dukakis  
Blame Bush  
Blame Terrorists  
Blame Bush and McCain  
Blame Romney  
Blame the Establishment  
9. Communications in Congressional Elections
Features of Congressional Campaigns  
Historical Congressional Ads  
Clinton Versus Giuliani and Lazio in 2000  
2008 Senate Campaigns  
2012 House and Senate Campaigns  
2016 House and Senate Campaigns  
10. Communications and Democratic Elections
Democratic Expectations  
The Risk of Manipulation  
The Importance of Fact-Checking  
Lessons of Campaign Communications  
Slicing and Dicing the Electorate  
What Can Be Done  
Appendix: Memorable Ads, 1984–2016
About the Author

Air Wars has always helped my students develop a better understanding of the traditional political communication theories. West does a great job with the coverage of traditional advertising methods and historical ads.”

Heather Evans
Sam Houston State University

Air Wars is a remarkably valuable text for those who are interested in learning about paid media advertising in American election campaigns. West does an admirable job of devoting attention to all aspects of the advertising process: the behind the scenes strategic considerations of the producers, the coverage by the news media, as well as their effects on the audience. Air Wars has become a permanent part of my Media and Politics course because of its thorough examination of the role played by paid media in modern campaigns.”

Robert Dion
University of Evansville

Air Wars is an engaging and well-written book on campaigns and campaign effects. It provides a comprehensive examination of television advertising in election campaigns. In particular, West supports his discussion of agenda-setting and priming, which is among the clearest I have read, with relevant examples from both historical and recent campaigns.”

Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha
University of North Texas
Key features
  • New examples and coverage of how Donald Trump’s campaign surprised the experts, why Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College despite outspending Trump on advertising, the ever-increasing use and impact of social media, and the challenges posed by the spread of misinformation and fake news provide students with a thorough understanding of key issues in the how contemporary campaigns are planned, executed, and covered.
  • New case studies of 2016 presidential and congressional campaign ads offer insight into the impact of advertising on elections.
  • A History in Pictures features an array of ad stills–from Lyndon Johnson's shocking "Daisy" ad in 1964 to ads the Clinton and Trump campaigns ran in the most recent election.
  • An Appendix of Memorable Ads, 1984–2016, lets students read through and analyze narrated comments.
  • An Overview Chapter outlines advertising principles as well as how ads are put together and financed.
  • Conclusion sections at the end of chapters summarize key takeaway points.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

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