Saturday, November 17

Political fundraising can help or hurt candidates image

On Thursday, three researchers from the Ohio State University presented the conclusions of an interesting study at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association.

They tested an idea by showing newspaper articles about a mayoral campaign to 239 adults. Embedded in those news stories were references to the fund-raising prowess of the candidates. Later the participants in the study rated the candidates on several traits, including leadership, honesty, intelligence, and competency.

The liberal candidate who raised the most money was perceived as lower in integrity. However, there was no similar drop for conservative candidates who raised a lot of money. The conservative candidate best at raising money was more likely to be considered "competent" - particularly by conservative voters.

Why the difference? For conservative candidates, successful fund-raising "may signify a great individual achievement, leadership, and loyalty among his supporters," the researchers noted. . . . Similarly, he is perceived as being more competent when he has more money, perhaps because he has done what it takes to win without violating . . . his ideological principles."

"The liberal candidate, however, does not fair so well in the court of public opinion by raising more money," they added. "Across the board, respondents felt the liberal had less integrity when he had more money."
Do you think the same shifts in opinion occur when liberal nonprofit groups publicize their fundraising results?

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