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CAS in the Media Arts and Sciences Media Headlines

Shining a light on political ads

WSU’s Travis Ridout and others are working to bring more transparency to the sophisticated, evolving advertising campaigns politicians are doing online

With a little more than a year to go until the 2024 general election, voters can expect to see a tsunami of political ads in the coming months.

AdImpact, a firm that tracks ad spending, recently projected political advertising will top $10.2 billion during the 2023-24 election cycle. That’s an increase of 13% compared to 2020, and nearly four times the amount spent in 2016.

Travis Ridout, the director of Washington State University’s School of Politics, Philosophy and Public [Affairs], said much of the spending will go toward digital ads on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

In recent years, campaigns have also begun allocating a larger and larger percentage of their budgets to online video streaming services.

This explosion in digital advertisements is raising concerns among democracy advocates. Because the online platforms are largely unregulated, it’s hard to track who’s paying for the ads, what they’re saying or how they’re trying to influence voters.

Ridout is part of a multiinstitute team of researchers who want to bring more transparency to the issue. They recently received a National Science Foundation grant to help expand their efforts to monitor online political advertising.

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The Lewiston Tribune
Pullman-Moscow Daily News

How the Post Office could decide the presidency in 2024

The result of the next US presidential election could be decided by the efficiency of the humble postal service.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, voting by mail has become the norm for millions of Americans, and the practice is now central to each political party’s path to the White House. As legislative battles rage across the country over laws governing the practice, new research suggests that the performance of the postal service can have a small but noticeable impact on election turnout.

Michael Ritter.

“Across the board, this study shows that having better postal administration makes it more likely there will be more positive voter turnout outcomes linked to all mail voting laws,” said researcher Michael Ritter, of Washington State University, who published the study in the Election Law Journal this summer.

“Postal service administration is important for shaping the ability of people to vote by mail,” Mr Ritter told The Independent. “For example, it can capture, you know, how easily or readily people are able to receive election mail at their homes, how quickly that mail is transported to distribution facilities and to election ballot counting sites,” he added.

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The Independent

WSU professor in Ireland thrust into election coverage

Matthew Sutton
Matthew Sutton

By Darin Watkins, WSU News

The U.S. presidential race has captured the attention of people around the world, especially in Europe. As millions of Americans head to the polls, foreign media have ramped up their coverage.

Washington State University’s Matthew Sutton has found himself at the center of this interest in American politics. An associate professor of history, Sutton is on a Fulbright scholarship in Ireland lecturing on American cultural, political, and religious history at the University College Dublin.

What has attracted the media to Sutton is his background in writing about American politics.

In an interview on “RTE Morning Ireland,” Sutton was asked why the two presidential candidates seem to be avoiding the big issues rather than facing up to them in their campaigns.  Continue story →

CAS in the media: November 2, 2012

Elections and politics

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