"What About People Our Age?" Applying Qualitative and Quantitative Methods to Uncover How Political Ads Alienate College Students

  • Parmelee J
  • Perkins S
  • Sayre J
  • 87

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Abstract

This study uses a sequential transformative mixed methods research design to explain how political advertising fails to engage college students. Qualitative focus groups examined how college students interpret the value of political advertising to them, and a quantitative manifest content analysis concerning ad framing of more than 100 ads from the 2004 presidential race revealed why focus group participants felt so alienated by political advertising. By not selecting issues and people to which youth can relate, political advertising is framed to decrease the salience of young voters, thereby promoting an interpretation among college students that the messages within candidate ads are not relevant to them. Suggestions are made for building more engaging ads. The utility of this research design is also discussed in terms of its benefits for data analysis and validity.

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Authors

  • John H. Parmelee

  • Stephynie C. Perkins

  • Judith J. Sayre

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