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Air Wars

Air Wars
Television Advertising and Social Media in Election Campaigns, 1952-2016

Seventh Edition

Other Titles in:
Media & Public Opinion

February 2017 | 192 pages | CQ Press
Tracing the evolution of political advertising from 1952 through 2016, Darrell M. West returns with his much anticipated Seventh Edition of Air Wars: Television Advertising and Social Media in Election Campaigns, 1952-2016. Integrating the latest data and key events from the 2016 campaigns—including the most provocative presidential campaign in recent decades and the surprising victory of Donald Trump—West provides in-depth examination and insight into how candidates plan and execute advertising and social media campaigns, how the media covers these campaigns, and how American voters are ultimately influenced by them.

This new edition includes coverage of social media campaigning, nano-targeting strategies in a fragmented electorate, and thorough analysis of the 2016 presidential campaign, from the candidates’ use of Twitter to concerns over falsehoods and deception, the impact of ads and debates on candidate perceptions, and the risks to democratic elections from new campaign developments.

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Pictorial History
1. The History of Communications
From Newspapers and Television to the Internet and Social Media

Broadcasting Strategies





2. Effective Ads and Social Media Promotion
Principles of Advertising

Production Techniques

The Role of Money and Super PACs

Effective Tweeting

Third-Party Validation


3. Buying Air Time and Using Social Media
The Strategies of Ad Buying

The Study of Ad Buys

Ad Frequency and Diversification

Vapor Ads

Social Media Outreach

Targeting Strategies


4. Messages
Substantive Content

Prominent Ads

The Paucity of Policy Appeals

Shifts Over Time

The Rise of Internet Sites

The Rise of Negative Advertising

The Objects of Negativity


5. Media Coverage
The Increasing Coverage of Ads

Horse-Race Coverage of Ads

“Daisy,” “Daisy II,” and the “Revolving Door”

Swift Boat Veterans Ads

2008 Ads

2012 Ads

2016 Ads


6. Learning About the Candidates
Citizens’ Knowledge and Evaluations of Candidates

The Impact of the Campaign

Ads and the Vote


7. Setting the Agenda
The Media’s Role in Agenda Setting

Policy and Campaign Components of the Agenda

The Influence of Individual Ads

A Fixed Agenda

A Fluid Agenda

It’s Still the Economy, Stupid!

Shifting the Focus

A Chaotic World


8. Playing the Blame Game
Blame Dukakis

Blame Bush

Blame Terrorists

Blame Bush and McCain

Blame Romney

Blame the Establishment


9. Communications in Congressional Elections
Features of Congressional Campaigns

Historical Congressional Ads

Clinton Versus Giuliani and Lazio in 2000

2008 Senate Campaigns

2012 House and Senate Campaigns

2016 House and Senate Campaigns


10. Communications and Democratic Elections
Democratic Expectations

The Risk of Manipulation

The Importance of Fact-Checking

Lessons of Campaign Communications

Slicing and Dicing the Electorate

What Can Be Done


Appendix: Memorable Ads, 1984–2016
About the Author

Air Wars has always helped my students develop a better understanding of the traditional political communication theories. West does a great job with the coverage of traditional advertising methods and historical ads.”

Heather Evans
Sam Houston State University

Air Wars is a remarkably valuable text for those who are interested in learning about paid media advertising in American election campaigns. West does an admirable job of devoting attention to all aspects of the advertising process: the behind the scenes strategic considerations of the producers, the coverage by the news media, as well as their effects on the audience. Air Wars has become a permanent part of my Media and Politics course because of its thorough examination of the role played by paid media in modern campaigns.”

Robert Dion
University of Evansville

Air Wars is an engaging and well-written book on campaigns and campaign effects. It provides a comprehensive examination of television advertising in election campaigns. In particular, West supports his discussion of agenda-setting and priming, which is among the clearest I have read, with relevant examples from both historical and recent campaigns.”

Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha
University of North Texas

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Darrell M. West

Darrell M. West is the Vice President of Governance Studies and Director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He is the author of 22 books, including Megachange: Economic Disruption, Political Upheaval, and Social Strife in the 21st Century and Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust. More About Author

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ISBN: 9781506329833

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