Date of Thesis

2014

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Scott Meinke

Keywords

campaign advertisements

Abstract

Female candidates have become more successful in the political arena, specifically in the United States Senate. Today, females make up twenty percent of the total Senate seats. Despite this increase, females are still underrepresented in Washington. As such, understanding the roadblocks to equality will help us achieve parity. In an attempt to understand various challenges that female senatorial candidates face, this project looks at a specific element of their campaign, TV advertisements. Assessing candidate advertisements will help us understand whether gender affects strategic campaign decisions. Specifically, this project investigates the relationship between candidate gender and casting and setting of TV advertisements. Does gender influence the makeup of political ad spots? In order to understand this relationship more completely, I employ both quantitative data and case study analysis for same-gender and mixed-gender primary and general election contests in 2004 and 2008. Ultimately, candidate gender has little to no effect on casting of senatorial advertisements across both election cycles. Despite this variation in casting, we observe consistent findings across three settings, the political setting, the home setting, and the neighborhood setting. In both 2004 and 2008, female candidates use smaller proportions of ad frames with the political setting in comparison to their male counterparts. Female candidates in both election cycles also employed greater proportions of ad frames with the home and neighborhood setting compared to male candidates. These discrepancies point to a distinction in advertisement strategy depending on gender of the candidate.

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