In a past investigation, we examined the impact of negative advertising to account for the shift in public support for the Republican Party candidate during the 1996 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota. However, directly viewing the advertising was only one way that citizens could have been exposed to the negative ads that contributed to public opinion about the candidate. Citizens also could have received information about the advertising indirectly through the press coverage of the campaign. This paper considers the role of both ads and news as it compares the earlier model of advertising with a model of press coverage to determine which model presents the best explanation for the decline in the Republican candidate's favorability over the course of the Senate campaign. Findings indicate that the press model accounts for a greater degree of variance in the Republican candidate's favorability, suggesting that citizens are more likely to rely upon press spin in processing information about campaigns. This suggests that advertising may be more accurately modeled as having an indirect impact on favorability filtered through press coverage of the campaign, particularly in competitive, high intensity races.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
An earlier version of this article was presented at the Regional Conference of the World Association of Public Opinion Research in Pamplona, Spain, in November . This research was partially funded by an NSF grant through the Mershon Center at Ohio State University. Any errors are the responsibility of the authors. The article was first submitted to IJPOR July , . The final version was received April , .