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Soc. Sci. 2016, 5(3), 50;

18 Million Cracks, but No Cigar: News Media and the Campaigns of Clinton, Palin, and Bachmann

Social Sciences Department, Missouri Southern State University, 3950 Newman Rd, Joplin, MO 64801, USA
Department of Justice Studies, James Madison University, MSC 1205, 800 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Martin J. Bull
Received: 10 June 2016 / Revised: 12 September 2016 / Accepted: 14 September 2016 / Published: 21 September 2016
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Decades of research within political science, political communication, and mass media found pervasive gender biased media coverage of female political candidates. However, recent research suggests that gender stereotypes do not have a consistent effect in all campaign environments and when gender stereotypes are not activated, female candidates are not disadvantaged. As a result, if we see a reduction in reliance on gender stereotypes in the media, female candidates should enjoy a more level playing field. In this analysis, we focus on mass media’s coverage of female candidates in elite executive political races. This study conducts a content analysis of media coverage of three recent women candidates for the United States’ highest executive offices: Senator Hillary Clinton, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, and Governor Sarah Palin. Our analysis of newspapers and television news coverage confirms the media do not discuss female and male candidates in neutral terms, but instead fall back onto traditional gender stereotypes and emphasize female candidates’ physical appearances and family roles far more frequently than they do for male candidates. This may, in turn, prime gender stereotypes in voters, impair candidates’ fundraising ability, and limit the electoral ambition of future generations of female candidates. View Full-Text
Keywords: gender; US Elections; media; political communication gender; US Elections; media; political communication

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Foster Shoaf, N.R.; Parsons, T.N. 18 Million Cracks, but No Cigar: News Media and the Campaigns of Clinton, Palin, and Bachmann. Soc. Sci. 2016, 5, 50.

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