Video Exercise

In Chapters 3 and 5, we describe how campaigns often rely on vague platitudes instead of offering specific proposals on salient political issues. In fact, there may be good reasons to do so. Voters may hear a candidate’s ambiguous proposal and, if they feel favorably toward that candidate, simply assume that the candidate shares their views. For example, if a candidate says “I want to strengthen education”, a voter could interpret that as suggesting support for public schools, teachers’ unions, standardized testing, smaller classrooms, voucher programs, or anything else. The purpose of this exercise is to watch campaign advertisements and think about how they are, or are not, ambiguous.

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"Something":
1.
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What political issues, if any, does Obama address in this ad? What exactly is he promising to do? What do you think is the intent of this ad?
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“Parachute”:
2.
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This ad is focused on the 2008 financial crisis. What steps does Obama propose to take to address this crisis? How could his proposal be even more specific?
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“Coin”:
3.
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How are Obama’s and McCain’s ideas about health care portrayed in this ad? Where do you see ambiguity and specificity? In general, do you think that ads that attack the opposing candidate are more or less likely to contain specific proposals?

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