The Midwest Political Science Association’s annual conference runs the Palmer House in Chicago for a weekend. And it was this weekend. I was part of Section 29-13: Political Communication in Campaigns. What’s extraordinary about this meeting of political science professionals is the scope of information produced. I mean, we hear that the amount of information available to us doubles every five years, or so I read that on the internet, and attending panels and speaking at panels (where people present research) is an opportunity to access new information.
Remembering Wittgenstein, we are all specialists who can only try to understand one another. I would like to understand who benefits most from conferences (besides the winners of prizes). Maybe some day we will measure the efficacy and efficiency of the communication, or transactions, that happened in Chicago these past few days. Like, how many discussants and presenters collaborated enough to improve his or her paper? What difference does this represent for the field? For example, don’t the distinguished professors benefit from providing such insight that it does improve non-distinguished researchers’ work?
With a kind and thoughtful Chair, Amy Steigerwalt of Georgia State University, the papers from my section were presented as follows:
Political Actor Agency, Public Opinion, Negative Media Frames, and Winning Elections
This study employs a game theory framework to compare candidate responses to negative media frames. Using data from the Jeremiah Wright, Swift Boat, and National Guard media frames, this study finds that agency matters.
Anthony L. Daniels, Wayne State University and John Renard Girdwood, Wayne State University.
Stories in Political Communication
Politics is full of stories – messages that use characters and plot to advance a point. This paper uses a content analysis of political ads to investigate how frequently and under what conditions political communication takes the form of stories.
Charles Daniel Myers, University of Michigan.
The Access Subsidy: The Investment of Candidate Time and its Effects on Media Coverage in Senate Campaigns
This paper advances the notion that campaigns that make it easier to directly access the candidate infuse campaign information with greater newsworthiness and are therefore apt to attract more useful coverage.
David Niven, University of Cincinnati.
Televised Debates: It’s not only Words that Matter
This paper analyzes the televised debate by two party leaders focussing on the the verbal and non-verbal channels of communication. We find, in this regard, considerable discrepancy of one candidates, which shows in the subsequent media coverage.
Gilg U. H. Seeber and Christoph Tauber of University of Innsbruck.
When do Newspaper Endorsements Influence Voters
We conducted two large, online experiments to examine when newspaper endorsements influence citizens’ votes. We find that the spatial positions of candidates and newspapers both affect the impact of endorsements in predictable ways.
Christopher Warshaw, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Kyle Anthony Dropp, Stanford University.
Discussants: Jerry L. Miller, Ohio University. Glenn W. Richardson Jr., Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
My final thought is that listening to the other papers as well as the discussants’ comments did give me ideas for future research endeavors. So it appears, being a participant in a well-organized and professional conference will help me (and my co-author) write a better paper as well as attempt to solve new research questions.