The 2016 presidential campaign broke the mold when it comes to patterns of political advertising. Using data from the Wesleyan Media Project, we show the race featured far less advertising than the previous cycle, a huge imbalance in the number of ads across candidates and one candidate who almost ignored discussions of policy. This departure from past patterns, however, was not replicated at the congressional level. We draw some lessons about advertising from the 2016 campaign, suggesting that its seeming lack of effectiveness may owe to the unusual nature of the presidential campaign with one unconventional candidate and the other using an unconventional message strategy, among other non-advertising related factors.
Fowler, Erika Franklin; Ridout, Travis N.; and Franz, Michael M., "Political advertising in 2016: The presidential election as outlier?" (2016). Government Faculty Publications. 7.