Campus News

Prof. Michael Franz in The Christian Science Monitor

Story posted August 07, 2008

Assistant Professor of Government Michael Franz weighs in on the topic of lawn signs that proliferate during campaign season in the August 7, 2008, edition of The Christian Science Monitor.

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Michael Franz

In the article, "When Political Lawn Signs Shout Too Loudly," Franz speaks of the balance a candidate must strike in achieving an eye-catching but not off-putting sign.

"You want people to think you are a front-runner, but you don't want them to think you're sullying the neighborhood by putting this monstrosity on someone's lawn," he says in the article.

Read the Christian Science Monitor article here.

Franz, co-author of Campaign Advertising and American Democracy (Temple University Press, 2007) has made several media appearances in which he has discussed the strategies involved in political campaigns.

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It has been estimated that more than three million political ads were televised leading up to the elections of 2004. More than $800 million was spent on television ads in the race for the White House alone, and presidential candidates, along with their party and interest group allies, broadcast more than a million ads — more than twice the number aired before the 2000 elections.

What were the consequences of this barrage of advertising? Were viewers turned off by political advertising to the extent that it dissuaded them from voting, as some critics suggest? Did they feel more connected to political issues and the political system, or were they alienated? These are the questions Campaign Advertising and American Democracy answers, based on a unique, robust and extensive database dedicated to political advertising.

Confronting prevailing opinion, the carefully researched work Professor Franz and that of his co-authors, Paul B. Freedman, Associate Professor in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia; Kenneth M. Goldstein, Professor of Political Science at University of Wisconsin-Madison and Director of the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project; and Travis N. Ridout, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Washington State University, finds that political ads may actually educate, engage and mobilize American voters. Their research found that only in the rarest of circumstances do political spots have negative impacts.

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