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THE INFLUENCE OF POLITICAL ADVERTISING MESSAGES ON THE ELECTORATES’ CHOICE OF CANDIDATES.

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1          Background of the study

Political campaign is organised effort to secure nomination and election of candidates. A political advertisement means an announcement or message of any form which is broadcast in return of payment by a candidate in elections. It does not include letters of editors, news or features articles or editorial comments. The essential task of political advertising is to gain the confidence of the people and influence their vote. Political advertising raises many questions concerning the funding of political campaigns, the reality of political claims and the likelihood of slanderous or libellous claim made by political candidates.
Weaver, Ann and Tinham (1999) suggest the role of televised advertising in electoral system is becoming increasingly important as these messages become a more powerful factor in voter’s decision-making. This change is especially prominent in latin Nigeria, where recent utilization of televised political advertising has allowed people across the country to become more informed about political candidates than ever before.
Available literature suggest that one important predictor of voter decision- making are candidate evaluation developed ,in part , through political advertising (Miller et al.1986).Political consultants and candidates rely increasingly on television advertising to increase their candidates evaluation and influence voters during elections (O cass, 2005). But what factors influence the respondent’s evaluations of the candidate’s image? Research evidence demonstrates a powerful relationship between respondents cognitive thoughts (Tybout et al; 1978; Wright, 1973) and emotion response to political advertising as prime influence factors (madden et al., 1988). Likewise, evidence suggests that candidate image evaluation are strongly associated with the valence of the message strategy (Tedesco, 2002), Moreover, the literature suggest that campaign message strategy can influence how people vote and what people think the election is about when they vote (Jamieson, 1984). Negative campaigns focus on political scandals as their thematic contents to make an argument against the opposing candidate (Kaid and Bystrom, 1987). Such ads are often perceived as uninformative and untruthful (Change et al., 1998), resulting in negativism toward the political process and ultimately producing citizen disgust with political campaigns (Pinklenton et al., 2002).
Although extensive research has been conducted on political advertising particularly on the effect or negative advertising, this study proposes to compare advertising evaluations across four message strategies (competitive, direct comparative, indirect comparative and attacking) in televised political advertising as moderators between emotions/cognitions and these evaluations. Most professional practitioners and academic researchers generally classify political advertising into three message categories:

  1. Positive ads, also identified as competitive ads, which include only statement about the candidate, with no explicit mention of the candidate’s opponent;
  2. (Direct) comparative ads, which contain both positive statements about the candidate and negative statements about the opponent; and
  3. Negative or attacking ads, which contain only negative statements about the opponent and nothing positive about the candidate. (Goldstein and Freedman, 2002).

However, although it has not been included in any empirical studies, Johnson-Cartee and Copeland (1991) have identified another message strategy termed indirect comparative or implicit comparative. This message strategy include both explicit positive statement(s) about the sponsor (as do competitive ads) and an implicit negative statement about the opponent (as opposed to direct negative statements like those contained in direct comparative ads. This message strategy is called an indirect comparative advertisement. Political advertising associated with elections to government offices has been the focus of much consumer and voter criticism. It is characterized by advertising in which one opponent launches a vicious and degrading attack in the ethics and morals or law breaking behaviour of the other followed by counter attack by his or her opponent of similar kind. This type of political advertising is often used as a very visible example of bad taste in mass communication and adding further to the general cynicism of voter attitudes towards politicians and government.
The problem is that advocates of the negative advertising strategy have shown that in many instances it works. It has been shown that negative advertising can be effective in accomplishing a primary objective, like winning an election, but it can also result undesirable secondary side effects such as increasing cynical attitudes about politics and politicians. The January 2011 people’s Democratic Party Presidential Primary in Abuja may have come and gone but it left many negative issues in the minds of Nigerians. It will not be easy for most characterized the campaign period especially on the path of President Goodluck Jonathan and his bitter rival, Alhaji Abubakar. The campaign organization of both candidates freely engaged in negative political advertisement against their opponents. The crescendo was the apathy which many Nigerian electorates felt for the two main candidates as a result of the negative campaigns.
1.2     STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Some scholars have argued that emotions are  key factors in voter responses to mediated messages (Tedesco, 2002). For example, Kaid et al. (1992) demonstrated that emotional factors comprising either hopefulness or anxiety dimension are directly related to respective positive and negative evaluations of the candidates. The intended effects of attacking advertising create negative feeling toward the targeted candidate and positive emotions toward the sponsoring candidate. The attacking advertising does not produce any good but hurts the political campaign. Although research in advertising suggests that repetition, even in the case of negative advertising, increase attitudes toward the ad and attitudes toward the brand. This assumption does not apply to political advertising. Literature in political advertising state that too much exposure to attacking advertising produces political cynicism and repetition create a backlash against the sponsor. In this instance, repetition might only increase viewer’s disgust for the candidate, and so decrease viewer’s intention to vote. That is, an attacking message strategy will only contribute to citizens’ disgust with the campaign. The issue for determination at this point is how do Nigeria electorates perceive the advertising messages used by Goodluck Jonathan and Atiku Abubakar during the recently concluded PDP Presidential Primary election in January 2011.

1.3     OBJECTIVES OF THS STUDY

The study in broad terms is aimed at:

  1. Determining how Nigeria perceived the advertising messages used by the Goodluck Jonathan and Atiku Abubakar campaign organization during the January PDP Presidential Primaries in Abuja.
  2. Finding out the impact of the Jonathan/Atiku campaign messages on Nigerian electorates.
  3. Ascertaining the major contents of Jonathan/Atiku campaign messages.
  4. Determining the influence of the advertising messages used by the Jonathan/Atiku campaign organization on the PDP delegates.

1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

To aid the completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher,

H0:  advertising messages used by the Goodluck Jonathan and Atiku Abubakar campaign organization during the January PDP Presidential Primaries in Abuja has no significant effect on the electorate choice of candidate.

H1:  advertising messages used by the Goodluck Jonathan and Atiku Abubakar campaign organization during the January PDP Presidential Primaries in Abuja has a significant effect on the electorate choice of candidate

H02: the Jonathan/Atiku campaign messages has no impact on Nigerian electorates.

H2: the Jonathan/Atiku campaign messages has impact on Nigerian electorates

1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the political class, as the study seek to explore the influence of the political advertisement messages on the choice of candidature of the electorate, the study will also be useful to the media houses as the study seek to elaborate on the effect of publishing false messages to the populace. Research students who may want to use the study as a source of reference in their academic pursuit. Finally the study will be of importance to academia’s student and the general public as the study will contribute to the pool of literature already available on the subject matter.

1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The scope of the study covers the influence of political advertising messages on the electorate choice of candidates, in the cause of the study, there were some factors which militated against the scope of the study

  1. a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
  2. b) TIME:The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher have to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
  3. c) FINANCE:the finance available to the researcher is a major constrain to the scope of the study, as the researcher has to maximize the available resources to course work and the study

1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS

Politics

Politics  is the process of making decisions applying to all members of each group. More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance organized control over a human community, particularly a state.

Political advertising

In politics, campaign advertising is the use of an advertising campaign through the media to influence political debate, and ultimately, voters. These ads are designed by political consultants and political campaign staff.

Electorate

An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century

1.8 STRUCTURE OF THE STUDY

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

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