Images, Issues, and Attacks explores important differences between incumbents and challengers in the uses of televised advertising in modern presidential elections. Elections since 1956 can be divided into three categories: elections with strong incumbents, the incumbent wins; elections with weak incumbents, the incumbent loses; and elections with surrogate incumbents, the vice president runs. Incumbent and challenger advertising emphasizes personal imagery, links the imagery to specific issues, and attacks rivals for opposing those images and issues. The first part of the book describes how incumbents and challengers used these themes in the elections from 1980 to 2000. The second part applies those findings to the 2004 election and shows how George W. Bush presented himself as a strong incumbent and how he and his challengers varied their mix of images, issues, and attacks over different periods of the election campaign.
E. D. Dover is professor of political science, public policy, and administration at Western Oregon University.