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The Forum

A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics

Ed. by Stonecash, Jeffrey / Hopkins, David

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Volume 12, Issue 4


Political Advertising in 2014: The Year of the Outside Group

Erika Franklin Fowler
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Government, 238 Church Street, Wesleyan University, Middletown, 06459 Connecticut, USA
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Travis N. Ridout
  • School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 816 Johnson Tower, Troy Lane, Washington State University, Pullman, 99164-4880 Washington, USA
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2015-01-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/for-2014-5030


The volume of televised political advertising plateaued in 2014, as did levels of negativity. Yet the most interesting story about this advertising was the extensive involvement of outside groups, many of which did not disclose their donors. In many of the most competitive Senate races, groups surpassed the parties – and sometimes even the candidates – as the primary sponsors of political advertising. We speculate on what these patterns from 2014 are likely to mean for advertising in 2016.


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About the article

Erika Franklin Fowler

Erika Franklin Fowler is Assistant Professor of Government at Wesleyan University and Co-Director of the Wesleyan Media Project. She specializes in political communication – local media and campaign advertising in particular – and her work on local news coverage of politics and policy has been published in political science, communication, law/policy, and medical journals.

Travis N. Ridout

Travis N. Ridout is Thomas S. Foley Distinguished Professor of Government and Public Policy and Associate Professor in the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs at Washington State University. He is Co-Director of the Wesleyan Media Project and author of The Persuasive Power of Campaign Advertising (Temple University Press, 2011).

Corresponding author: Erika Franklin Fowler, Department of Government, 238 Church Street, Wesleyan University, Middletown, 06459 Connecticut, USA, e-mail:

Published Online: 2015-01-28

Published in Print: 2014-12-01

Citation Information: The Forum, Volume 12, Issue 4, Pages 663–684, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, ISSN (Print) 2194-6183, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/for-2014-5030.

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