Date of Publication

5-12-2013

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Political Science & International Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Dena Levy

Abstract

There are many different ways to view the impact of living in a political battleground state. One can look at vote choice, civic engagement levels, advertising effects, or political engagement levels. All of these factors, plus many more contribute to the battleground effect. The battleground effect, as we call it, is the result of exposure to massive amounts of political media and influence from campaigns during presidential elections. Advertising is a major way in which battleground states differ from safe states. Beginning with Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992 many campaign managers have employed a strategy of purchasing ads in local media markets as opposed to national networks. This allows campaigns to target specific localities, while not including those they have already safely won over or have no chance of winning over (Lipsitz). This has evolved into the current situation we have today, where some voters will not see a single presidential ad, while others see them every commercial break. Swing states, without a doubt, are important to elections and central to campaigns. Presidential candidates are spending more money and time than ever in these few states that have been determined battlegrounds. This thesis seeks to determine whether the level of civic engagement residents show is at a higher or lower rate based on how contested their state is in presidential elections. Using results from the 2008 Census Bureau Survey- Civic Engagement Supplement it is possible to compare whether civic engagement levels differ between battleground and safe states. The questions from this survey examined a wide range of civic engagement activities, such as voting, contacting a public official, boycotting, and being involved in community or civic associations. Respondents come from New York and California, two safe states, and Virginia and Ohio, two swing states.

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