The effects of traditional news, partisan talk, and political satire programs on perceptions of presidential candidate viability and electability


This study examines how exposure to network news, partisan opinion talk, and political satire programs during the 2012 Iowa presidential caucuses affected viewers’ perceptions of candidate viability (likelihood of capturing the party nomination) and electability (likelihood of winning the general election). Programs representing these genres — ABC World News, Fox News’s Hannity, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart — all framed the same candidate as the front-runner for the nomination, though each framed this candidate’s general election prospects in distinctive ways. A randomized field experiment assigned respondents to view one (or none) of the three programs as they aired. Assessments of the front-runner were significantly shaped by assignment to view television coverage, hence demonstrating the potential importance of all three media genres for the presidential nomination process.

Atlantic Journal of Communication 24(3): 172-184
Philip Edward Jones
Philip Edward Jones
Associate Professor of Political Science