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The big lessons of political advertising in 2018

By: Travis Ridout, WSU professor of political science, Erika Franklin Fowler, and Michael Franz

The 2018 midterm elections are in the books, the winners have been declared and the 30-second attack ads are—finally—over.

Travis Ridout.
Ridout

As co-directors of the Wesleyan Media Project, which has tracked and analyzed campaign advertising since 2010, we spend a lot of time assessing trends in the volume and content of political advertising.

Because we have television data that span a number of elections, we can provide detailed information on how prominent TV ads are overall or in any given location, how many different types of sponsors are active and how the content of advertising compares to prior election cycles.

Of course, television is not the only medium through which campaigns attempt to reach voters. But online advertising, which represents the biggest growth market, has been much harder to track.

What role did political advertising play in the 2018 midterm elections? Here are our top observations.

Find out more

Salon

John Chau Wanted to Change Life on North Sentinel Island. Was He Wrong?

The death of a young American missionary on a tropical island at the hands of an indigenous group has left us to wonder: Are they better off with us or without us?

Because of their isolation, researchers say, the islanders have no immunity to infections and diseases of the outside world. Even a common cold could kill them. They posit that Mr. Chau put these people in grave danger and he should have never visited.

John Bodley.
Bodley

John Bodley, an anthropologist at Washington State University, agrees.

“There is no question that this attempt to make contact was totally wrong and a major violation of their human rights to autonomy,” he said. “Outsiders need to respect their wishes and treat them with dignity as fellow human beings. Respect means we don’t assume to know better how they should live.”

Find out more

New York Times

How where you’re born influences the person you become

By Samuel Putnam, Bowdoin College and Masha A. Gartstein, professor of psychology, Washington State University

As early as the fifth century, the Greek philosopher Thucydides contrasted the self-control and stoicism of Spartans with the more indulgent and free-thinking citizens of Athens.

Today, unique behaviors and characteristics seem ingrained in certain cultures.

Italians wildly gesticulate when they talk. Dutch children are notably easygoing and less fussy. Russians rarely smile in public.

Masha Maria Gartstein.
Gartstein

As developmental psychologists, we’re fascinated by these differences, how they take shape and how they get passed along from one generation to the next.

Our new book, “Toddlers, Parents and Culture,” explores the way a society’s values influences the choices parents make – and how this, in turn, influences who their kids become.

The enduring influence of cultural values

Although genetics certainly matter, the way you behave isn’t hardwired.

Find out more

WTOP

Midterm’s geographic divide renews interest in unlikely plan to split Washington in two

The notion of splitting Washington state in two has been around for decades. But the idea has attracted renewed attention since the election, when the state once again split ideologically along geographic and urban-rural lines.

Cornell Clayton.
Clayton

The role of some extremists “sort of legitimizes what we would otherwise call these hair-brained ideas,” said Cornell Clayton, a government professor and director of the Foley Institute of Public Policy at Washington State University. “People have to consider it more seriously.”

“I wonder myself whether they’re serious about it, or whether or not they’re using this as more a symbolic gesture to rally people behind their ideas,” Clayton said.

For years, Spokane Valley’s controversial representative to the state legislature has introduced bills that would create the 51st U.S. state – Liberty.

Liberty is the dream of Washington’s far-right: a libertarian bastion where residents don’t have to worry about liberal West Coast voters enacting tougher gun control laws or raising taxes. The plan would split Washington roughly along the Cascade mountain range.

Clayton doesn’t think any Seattle-area progressives or liberals have seriously considered the proposal, but it might actually be more appealing to them, he said.

“From their perspective, the eastern side of the state is a financial drag. The tax situation is that the western part of the state subsidizes the eastern part of the state,” he said. “There should be more incentive for them to want to see some kind of devolution or separation.”

Find out more

The big lessons of political advertising in 2018

By Erika Franklin Fowler, Wesleyan University; Michael Franz, Bowdoin College, and Travis N. Ridout, professor of political science, Washington State University

The 2018 midterm elections are in the books, the winners have been declared and the 30-second attack ads are—finally—over.

Travis Ridout.
Ridout

As co-directors of the Wesleyan Media Project, which has tracked and analyzed campaign advertising since 2010, we spend a lot of time assessing trends in the volume and content of political advertising.

Because we have television data that span a number of elections, we can provide detailed information on how prominent TV ads are overall or in any given location, how many different types of sponsors are active and how the content of advertising compares to prior election cycles.

Of course, television is not the only medium through which campaigns attempt to reach voters. But online advertising, which represents the biggest growth market, has been much harder to track.

Prior to May of 2018, for instance, social media giants like Google and Facebook did not release any information at all on political advertising, so tracking online advertising began in earnest only this cycle.

Although Americans frequently complain about campaign advertising, it remains an important way through which candidates for office can communicate their ideas directly to citizens, especially those who would not necessarily seek out the information themselves.

What role did political advertising play in the 2018 midterm elections? Here are our top observations:

Find out more

WTOP