THUNDER BAY – Political ads on television today are often attack ads. As the campaign for the Presidency of the United States winds down to Tuesday when most Americans will vote, looking back at the campaign ads of the past offer an insight into where we were, and where we are. Wayne Friedman states, “With less than a week to go, presidential-year TV station political advertising revenues is on pace to be nearly three-quarters higher than in 2008”.
Concurring with other estimates, SNL Kagan says Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign has outspent President Barack Obama in TV and radio advertising in these states — buying over half a billion dollars on local broadcasters. (Source)
Many people say they don’t like political ads, but ads, and especially attack ads are often very effective in a political campaign.
Here are some ads used in American campaigns over the past sixty years:
In the 1959 election between Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy, here is a television ad run by the Kennedy campaign;
Four years later, President Johnson was running against Barry Goldwater. The ‘Daisy’ ad was a sixty second spot, that only ran once, but has echoed on in political history.
In 1968, following the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey was the Democratic challenger, going up against Richard Nixon. In the election that Nixon would win, here is a political ad from the Humphrey campaign.
In running for re-election in 1972, President Nixon was facing George McGovern. Here is an ad from ‘Democrats for Nixon’ that ran during that campaign.
Ronald Reagan seen by many Conservatives as one of the icons of their movement won the White House in 1980.
Here is an ad from the 1984 campaign, a positive piece titled, “Morning in America”.
Political ads on television have always varied, just like print ads and posters in the past. Often the satire or attack has been the tactic that shifts public opinion, or makes the political base of the candidate stronger.
George W. Bush, running against John Kerry ran this ad, with wolves as the predators going after opponent John Kerry.
The ad was run during the 2004 campaign.
Looking at the political ads offers a look at history – Heading back to 1952, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was seeking the Oval Office. Here is the political ad that was used during that campaign;