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alieNATION

The Divide & Conquer Election of 2012

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Edited by Dianne G. Bystrom, Mary C. Banwart and Mitchell S. McKinney

alieNATION presents research conducted by a national election team and leading scholars in political communication that explores a range of important topics and variables affecting voter attitudes and behavior in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
In exploring the messages, issues, and voters of the 2012 election, these studies employ multiple methods including experimental design, content analysis, rhetorical criticism, and survey research. Whereas other election research tends to investigate either the content or effects of campaign communication, the more comprehensive and systematic nature of this collection enables alieNATION to cohere thematically around considerations of voter alienation, political engagement, political efficacy, and ultimately, citizens’ voting decisions.
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Communicating Politics

Engaging the Public in Democratic Life

Mitchell S. McKinney, Lynda Lee Kaid, Dianne G. Bystrom and Diana B. Carlin

Half of our eligible citizens fail to cast a presidential ballot and many more than half routinely ignore state and local elections. Does this phenomenon point to a crisis of democracy or does such behavior simply reflect indifference – or even contentment – among the public? Should we be alarmed that so many of our citizens seem disinterested and unwilling to participate in the various activities and forms of association that constitute civic life? If we are concerned by such matters, what might be done to reengage those who are seemingly disengaged? This book explores these questions and examines the well being of our civic condition at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Grounded in a communication perspective, we view the fundamental nature of a democracy as that of a civic dialogue – an ongoing conversation between our elected leaders or political candidates and the citizens they lead or wish to lead. Accordingly, the studies presented in this volume examine our civic sphere and the electoral process as a communicative interaction between elected officials, political candidates, the media, and citizens.