Political Advertising in the United States examines the volume, distribution, content, and effects of political advertising in congressional and presidential elections. The book considers the role of television ads using extensive data on ad airings on local broadcast stations. It also analyzes newly available data on paid digital ads, including ads on Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube. The book covers the role of outside groups in airing ads, including the rise of dark money groups and gaps in existing federal campaign finance laws around transparency of outside group spending. The authors consider how ad sponsors design and target ads. They also review the positive and negative implications of an electoral system where billions are spent on paid advertising. With detailed analysis of presidential and congressional campaign ads and discussion questions in each chapter, this accessibly written book is a must-read for students, scholars, and practitioners who want to understand the ins and outs of political advertising.

New to the Second Edition

• Covers the spending, content, and tone of political advertising in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections and the 2018 midterms, looking ahead to 2022 and 2024.

• Addresses the interference of foreign actors in elections and their connection to political advertising.

• Expands the discussion of digital political advertising and incorporates this topic into every chapter.

• Adds a new chapter specifically addressing digital ad content and spending.

• Includes data from the Facebook, Google, and Snapchat ad libraries and explores the role of these companies in regulating the sale of political advertising.

• Incorporates new data on the effects of race and gender in advertising, including what is known about the way in which advertising may activate prejudicial attitudes.

chapter 1|10 pages


chapter 2|26 pages

The Regulation of Advertising

chapter 4|14 pages

The Challenge of Online Advertising

chapter 5|16 pages

How Ads Are Created and Tested

chapter 6|22 pages

Buying and Targeting Political Advertising

chapter 8|23 pages

Beyond Persuasion

Mobilization and Other Effects of Advertising