The Journal of Politics


Making a Connection: Repetition and Priming in Presidential Campaigns

Michele P. Claibourna1

a1 University of Virginia


This paper examines whether the content of presidential advertising campaigns helps to create and reinforce associations between the issues a candidate emphasizes and that candidate. The argument relies on the distinction between mechanisms of priming, noting that the effects of exposure to the campaign fit better with a frequency mechanism than a recency mechanism. Using the 2000 presidential campaign, I find that the accumulated issue emphasis of the candidates’ advertising campaigns more strongly moderates the impact of issue considerations on evaluations than does recent emphasis, and in some cases, further serves to improve the predictability of these connections. This suggests the campaign can promote the development of longer-term associations via frequency accessibility and applicability which, in turn, enables citizens to hold the future leader accountable for the priorities embodied in the campaign.

(Received March 23 2007)

(Accepted November 10 2007)


Michele P. Claibourn is assistant professor of politics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904.