A group of Ohio broadcasters and newspapers met in December 2015 and agreed that Ohioans receive short shrift in the democratic process. For one, their voices aren’t heard above the programmed political rhetoric, and two, the candidates aren’t held accountable to the concerns of the people. Out of that grew The Ohio Media Project, a group of more than a dozen major news outlets determined to give voice to Ohioans in a series of stories known as Your Vote Ohio. Already, projects have been published on Ohio’s high level of disgust with government, and the seriously deteriorating Ohio economy.
Half-naked Melania Trump and other political attacks ‘made my skin crawl’
Most of the willing participants wore a complex set of headphones with moistened tentacles reaching into their hair, touching their scalp. Tiny sensors measured brain waves.
A long, narrow bar sat below the computer screen in front of them, watching the movement of their eyes.
This was a test — an effort to determine if, and how deeply, political advertising affects people.
There was little doubt when all was done.
Lauren James couldn't strike the image from her mind.
“It made my skin crawl,” the University of Akron student told Kathleen Kennedy, a researcher who showed the student a series of political advertisements, including a photo of a half-naked Melania Trump tweeted by Ted Cruz supporters.
Another person was struck by a video sponsored by the National Rifle Association depicting an unarmed woman with a burglar lurking outside her window. Many others remembered that one, too. As the ad began, they leaned forward in frightful suspense, then when it was clearly a political ad, they leaned back.
26 people with different political beliefs took part in the study.
Kathy Harris, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, said several of the ads "made her cringe", including some spots that support her candidate.
"It was just an interesting process to see what effect, how I felt-- how I actually felt-- about the ad regardless of the candidate, "Harris said.
Kennedy said positive ads for Clinton and John Kasich were the most effective in the eyes of the participants. Only one negative ad-- a spot against Donald Trump-- was viewed as persuasive.
"It was once more confirming that advertising has some effect," Kennedy said.