Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Don’t laugh – research shows comedy can give candidates a serious boost

27.05.2004


For a week after appearing with David Letterman during the 2000 campaign, candidate Bush’s favorability rating rose among late-night viewers while it dropped among non-viewers.


Presidential candidates can gain a measurable image boost from going on late-night TV, University of Washington researchers have found.

The researchers found that during the 2000 campaign, the favorability rating of George W. Bush went up among late-night comedy watchers for a week after Bush traded comedic jabs with David Letterman.

"Everyone talks about how ’infotainment’ is becoming more important in elections, but can it actually sway perceptions of the candidates? We found evidence that it can," said Patricia Moy, UW associate professor of communication.



Bush, of course, was not the only presidential contender playing the entertainment card. Rival Al Gore also won points with late-night viewers in 2000 after a Halloween stint on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," but Gore already was more popular than Bush among the liberal-tending late-night crowd.

"The potential influence appears to be stronger for the relatively unknown candidate," said Moy, who will present the findings Saturday at the International Communication Association’s annual conference in New Orleans.

The study -- with UW doctoral candidates Verena Hess and Michael Xenos as co-authors -- is based on responses from 11,482 adults to the National Annenberg Election Survey. Pollsters asked a random sample of Americans during the 2000 race how frequently they watched late-night comedy shows, and how favorably they rated the candidates.

In the week before Bush’s Oct. 19 appearance with Letterman, his rating was essentially the same among late-night viewers and non-viewers (56.2 vs. 58.5 on a scale of 0-100). During the week after the show, however, viewers’ rating of Bush rose to 59.0, while non-viewers’ rating of him dropped to 55.5.

The Letterman effect seemed to wear off the following week, when Bush was again doing equally well with non-viewers and viewers.

Some TV viewers, Moy said, may interpret a candidate’s willingness to be a guest on their favorite show as a sign he wants to reach more citizens and cares about their concerns. Indeed, after Bush’s appearance with Letterman, late-night comedy watchers were more likely than non-watchers to base their rating of Bush on their perception that he "really cares about people like me."

It’s no secret that politicians have been paying increasing attention to media genres not traditionally associated with serious information, from Richard Nixon’s image-softening 1968 appearance on "Laugh In" to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pre-election interview last year with Oprah Winfrey.

A very popular source of such "non-traditional news" in the 2000 presidential campaign was late-night comedy, according to a separate Pew Research Center study. And Letterman and Leno reach at least 3 million viewers each night.

But Moy cautioned that the benefit to a candidate depends on how he does on the show.

"Research tells us that voters’ political decisions are based on many factors," Moy said, "including candidates’ issue stances and their ability to interact with citizens and make them feel comfortable."

And though the late-night comedy audience represents only 22.4 percent of the total Annenberg sample -- and is generally younger, more liberal and more male than the overall adult population -- Moy said that is a key segment that politicians are trying to reach.

"If you can get a generation to vote," she said, "that can swing an election."


For more information, contact Moy at (206) 543-9676 or pmoy@u.washington.edu. The study can be found at http://www.com.washington.edu/Program/Faculty/Faculty/moy.html

Steven Goldsmith | University of Washington
Further information:
http://www.uwnews.org/article.asp?articleID=4430
http://www.com.washington.edu/Program/Faculty/Faculty/moy.html

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht New Technologies for A/V Analysis and Search
13.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT

nachricht On patrol in social networks
25.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>