Attack Politics: Strategy and Defense (PRAEGER SERIES IN PUBLIC AND NONPROFIT SECTOR MARKETING)

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9780275933753: Attack Politics: Strategy and Defense (PRAEGER SERIES IN PUBLIC AND NONPROFIT SECTOR MARKETING)
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In a timely contribution to the political communication and U.S. politics literature, Pfau and Kenski trace the nature and growth of political attack messages through the 1988 election. As the authors note at the outset, political attack messages have grown more and more popular in contemporary political advertising, in large part because research indicates that attack messages are extremely effective in influencing voters. The authors examine the various attack strategies, both generally and as applied in specific campaigns, and then focus on responses to political attacks. Particular attention is given to the resistance strategy of inoculation which, the authors argue, is one of the few viable strategic defenses available to candidates who find themselves under attack. In addition to reviewing early laboratory research on inoculation, the authors present the results of two large experimental field studies--one involving a Senate campaign in 1986, the other the 1988 presidential campaign--which represent the first tests of inoculation in a political campaign context.

Following an overview of the historical role played by attack messages in American politics, the authors examine the rapid growth of attack politics during the Reagan era, culminating in the 1988 election. They demonstrate the inadequacies of existing and proposed options for limiting the use of attack messages in political campaigns, arguing that the judiciary's support for unfettered political expression combined with the perception among campaign professionals that attack strategies are an important and effective option mitigate against any decrease in their use. The authors also point out the inadequacies inherent in present defenses against attack messages--the preemptive attack, the refutation strategy, and the counterattack strategy. Turning to a consideration of the inoculation message strategy, Pfau and Kenski present an extended discussion of the results of the 1986 and 1988 field studies. The findings indicate that inoculation messages deflect the persuasiveness of subsequent attack messages that might be launched by an opponent during a campaign, thereby reducing the likelihood that political attacks will influence either receiver attitudes about candidates or actual receiver votes. Both political scientists and political campaign professionals will find Attack Politics enlightening and provocative reading.

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Book Description:

This book provides a theoretical and empirical examination of the role and impact of the attack message approach in modern political campaigns. The authors integrate existing theory and research with the results of their own extensive field research on political attack messages on on strategies of resistance to such attacks.

About the Author:

MICHAEL PFAU is Professor and Chair of the Department of Speech Communication at Augustana College. He has published more than 30 chapters and articles in such journals as Communication Monographs, Communication Education, Communication Research, The Western Political Quarterly, and Human Communication Research.

HENRY C. KENSKI is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Political Science at the University of Arizona. His numerous articles have appeared in publications such as Public Opinion Quarterly, Journal of Politics, and American Politics Quarterly.

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Kenski, Henry, Pfau, Michael
Published by Praeger (1990)
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Michael Pfau, Henry C. Kenski
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Henry Kenski; Michael Pfau
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