Tag Archive for Wesleyan Media Project

Fowler, Gollust ’01: Local TV News Is Making it Harder to Repeal Obamacare

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Writing in The Washington PostAssociate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler and Sarah Gollust ’01 show how local television news coverage is making it more difficult for the Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

“The ACA repeal was always going to be a tough, uphill battle in the Senate, as we explained here in May. The stakes are high — both for the millions of Americans who now have insurance through Obamacare, and for the Republican Party that promised to repeal it,” they wrote. “Senate efforts have failed so far for a variety of reasons. But here’s one that hasn’t yet been explored: local television news. That drumbeat of coverage in their home districts during Senate debates may have made some GOP senators think twice about angering constituents — including those of their own party.”

Wesleyan Media Project Researchers Write About What Americans Will Really Dislike about ‘Trumpcare’

Researchers affiliated with the Wesleyan Media Project wrote in The Washington Post on May 5 on what “Americans will really dislike about the House ‘Trumpcare’ bill.” The article, authored by Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Courtney Laermer ’17, Wesleyan Media Project Project Manager Laura Baum, and Sarah Gollust ’01, is based on data from Laermer’s senior thesis.

House Republicans voted on May 4 to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with their alternative plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The authors argue that this vote is likely to cause headaches for Republicans due to several unpopular changes it makes to the law. They focus, in particular, on the AHCA’s replacement for the individual mandate (unpopular itself with only 35 percent public approval) with a “continuous coverage requirement.” As they explain:

If you let your health insurance coverage lapse for more than 63 days, you would have to pay a 30 percent late-enrollment surcharge on top of the premium for the next year. (The bill passed with two amendments affecting these penalties. The widely debated MacArthur amendment lets states seek waivers to enable insurers to charge higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions who fall into this coverage gap. The late-breaking Upton amendment added Wednesday provides $8 billion in funds to offset some of these higher penalties for waiver states, but most analysts don’t think it’s enough).

The researchers surveyed nearly 1,600 Americans in mid-March during the debate over the first version of the AHCA. Here’s what they found:

As much as citizens don’t like the requirement to purchase insurance or pay a penalty to the government, our evidence suggests that they dislike the AHCA’s penalty paid to insurers even more.

In short, AHCA opponents and potential challengers to House Republicans can choose from among many lines of attack: the public is already concerned about protections for people with preexisting conditions, huge cuts to the Medicaid program, and citizens losing insurance. Highlighting the AHCA’s coverage-gap penalty could drop public support further.

Fowler, Gollust ’01 Author Paper on Insurance Enrollment, Advertising

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler is an author of a new paper released in HealthAffairs examining the link between health insurance changes after the first Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period and the efforts of federal, state, and non-profit sponsors to market their products.

Fowler and her co-authors found that advertising worked—more ads for the ACA produced a significantly higher rate of insurance enrollment.

The study, conducted in collaboration with researchers at the University of Minnesota (including Sarah Gollust ’01), uses advertising and television news data from the Wesleyan Media Project. It is one of the key papers to come out of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation State Health Access Reform Evaluation (SHARE) grant for Wesleyan/University of Minnesota, on which Gollust is principal investigator and Fowler is co-PI.

The researchers considered the relationship between the volume of television insurance advertising in a given area during this time period and the area’s rate of uninsurance and Medicaid coverage before and after open enrollment (ie. In 2013 and 2014). They found that the percentage of the population younger than age 65 that lacked health insurance fell by an average of 2.9 percentage points between the two time periods. Counties with larger advertising volumes saw larger declines in uninsurance than other counties. For every increase of 1,000 insurance advertisements, there was a 0.1 percentage-point reduction in uninsurance. Furthermore, state-sponsored insurance ads had the strongest relationship with declines in uninsurance from 2013 to 2014, compared to ads from private, federal, and other sponsors. An increase of 1,000 state-sponsored insurance ads was associated with a 0.23 percentage-point reduction in uninsurance.

The researchers emphasized the particular importance of state-sponsored insurance advertisements in driving coverage improvements. They calculated that roughly 2.5 people gained insurance for every state-sponsored ad aired during the first open enrollment period, and that doubling this advertising would lead to a 1.19 percent reduction in the uninsured. While strategic investment in advertising will be important to increase the uptake of insurance going forward, the authors stress that the type of advertising might affect the responsiveness of consumers.

“Although Republican control of government and the recent American Health Care Act proposal brings much uncertainty to the ACA’s future, insurance advertising will remain an important feature of encouraging enrollment in any marketplace,” said Fowler.

Wesleyan Media Project Releases Analysis on 2016 Election

mediaThe 2016 presidential campaign broke the mold when it comes to patterns of political advertising. But, in a new publication, the Wesleyan Media Project (co-directed by Associate Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler) says, “Not so fast” to those who argue that advertising no longer matters in elections.

The article published in The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics (open access through mid-April 2017) shows that the presidential race featured far less advertising than the previous cycle, a huge imbalance in the number of ads across candidates, and one candidate who almost ignored discussions of policy. Yet, at the congressional level, political advertising appeared far more ordinary. The authors share lessons about advertising in the 2016 campaign, and argue that its seeming lack of effectiveness may owe to the unusual nature of the presidential campaign with one nonconventional candidate and the other using an unconventional message strategy.

Furthermore, the authors demonstrate that 1) Clinton’s unexpected losses came in states in which she failed to air ads until the last week, and 2) Clinton’s message was devoid of policy discussions in a way not seen in the previous four presidential contests.

Read more on the Wesleyan Media Project blog, and in this Vox story.

Wesleyan Media Project Co-Directors Author Book on Political Advertising

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler and her collaborators on the Wesleyan Media Project are the authors of a new book, Political Advertising in the United Statespublished in February by Westview Press. The book is edited by Ada Fung ’06.

Fowler’s co-authors are Michael Franz of Bowdoin College and Travis Ridout of Washington State University.

Political Advertising in the United States is a comprehensive survey of the political advertising landscape and its influence on voters. The authors draw from the latest data to analyze how campaign finance laws have affected the sponsorship and content of political advertising, how “big data” has allowed for more sophisticated targeting, and how the Internet and social media have changed the distribution of ads. The book includes detailed analysis of presidential and congressional campaign ads and discussion questions in each chapter.

See the Wesleyan Media Project’s latest analyses of campaign advertising in the 2016 elections here.

The Wesleyan Media Project Finds More Campaign Advertising with Little Impact

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

The campaign season so far has seen a significant increase in the volume of GOP presidential ads, and an explosion in advertising by super PACs and other outside groups. Outside groups sponsored 81 percent of ads between January 1–December 9, 2015—a 71 percent increase over 2011, and 12,000 percent increase over 2007.

This was the finding of an analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project, its first of the 2016 election cycle. The “remarkable growth in campaign activity by independent groups” it found was covered by The Washington Post, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, USA Today, Vox and others.

Notably, the report found little correlation between campaign advertising and a candidate’s poll numbers. As Vox demonstrates in a chart, there actually appears to be an inverse relationship between the two at this point. They write: “The big thing that jumps out is the contrast between Jeb Bush (lots of spending, low poll numbers) and Donald Trump (no spending, high poll numbers).” The apparent ineffectiveness of TV campaign ads has led some to ask whether their death is near.

“It’s far too early to call for the death of TV advertising,” Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, says in the report. “The Republican field is still crowded, which makes for a more challenging advertising environment. It is also important to remember that volume isn’t everything. All ads are not created equal; advertising content and the characteristics of the receiving audience matter and will condition their influence.”

Fowler discussed ad effectiveness with NPR:

“Some ads score well” on effectiveness, she said. “But volume and quality don’t go hand in hand.”

She cited “Desk,” a 30-second spot the Bush superPAC released last week. As the camera moves in toward the desk in the Oval Office, images of Trump, then Ted Cruz, and then Marco Rubio appear as if sitting behind it. An announcer suggests each is unqualified for the job — and then the ad shifts to talk about Bush.

Fowler said three attacks are too many. “It ends up coming off as a laundry list,” she said. And right now that’s the problem with the whole campaign: “There are too many other candidates to attack.” She predicted the ads will get more focused and effective as the candidate field shrinks.

Fowler’s Articles on Advertising in 2014 Midterm Elections Published

Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler recently had two new articles on advertising in the 2014 elections published.

Co-written with her Wesleyan Media Project co-director Travis Ridout of Washington State University, “Political Advertising in 2014: The Year of the Outside Group” was published in The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics in December 2014. The paper notes a plateau in political advertising volumes and levels of negativity this election cycle, and an increasingly prominent role played by outside groups, especially in competitive races for the U.S. Senate. It also tracks the most competitive races, looks at issues featured in ads, and notes that advertising started earlier this election cycle.

Another paper, written by Fowler, Ridout and the Wesleyan Media Project’s third co-director, Michael Franz of Bowdoin University, titled, “Sponsorship, Disclosure and Donors: Limiting the Impact of Outside Group Ads,” was published online in Political Research Quarterly in December 2014. The paper reports that interest group advertising from dark money sources has grown. Yet despite extensive advertising, the vast majority of the public has not heard of prominent interest group advertisers, regardless of whether or not they disclose their donors. Building on a small but growing literature, the authors demonstrate that advertising from unknown interest groups is viewed more credibly and ultimately moves intended vote choice more than ads from candidates. Disclosure–either in an ad or through the news media–levels the playing field in ad effectiveness, but does not make interest group advertising any less effective than candidate advertising.

 

Wesleyan Media Project’s Research Cited in Senate Committee Hearing

The Wesleyan Media Project’s research was cited by U.S. Senator Angus King of Maine during a hearing April 30 of the Senate Committee on Rules & Administration. The subject of the hearing was “Dollars and Sense: How Undisclosed Money and Post-McCutcheon Campaign Finance Will Affect 2014 and Beyond.” Watch a recording of the webcast here.

The Wesleyan Media Project, directed by Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler and collaborators at Bowdoin College and Washington State University, works to increase transparency about political advertising. It tracks political ad airings on television and reports in real time about ad sponsors, spending, tone and content. The project’s co-directors submitted written testimony to the Senate committee about growing interest group involvement in elections and how disclosure matters.

Knight Foundation Supports Wesleyan Media Project

The Wesleyan Media Project has received a grant of $74,800 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to track and analyze campaign ad spending in the 2014 midterm election cycle. The project is directed by Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, along with Michael Franz of Bowdoin College and Travis Ridout of Washington State University. A resource for journalists, policymakers, scholars and voters, the project has worked to increase transparency in federal elections since it was established in 2010 with support from Knight Foundation.

Read more about the grant and the Wesleyan Media Project’s work here.

Knight Foundation Supports Wesleyan Media Project

The Wesleyan Media Project received a grant of $74,851 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to track and analyze campaign ad spending in the 2014 midterm election cycle.

The project is directed by Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, along with Michael Franz of Bowdoin College and Travis Ridout of Washington State University. A resource for journalists, policymakers, scholars and voters, the project has worked to increase transparency in federal elections since it was established in 2010 with support from the Knight Foundation.

Wesleyan Media Project Provides Political Ad Tracking, Analysis During Election

Matt Motta ’13 uses an online system to "code" political ads. Motta estimates that he has watched between 400 and 500 unique ad spots through his work on the Wesleyan Media Project.

Matt Motta ’13 uses an online system to “code” political ads. Motta estimates that he has watched between 400 and 500 unique ad spots through his work on the Wesleyan Media Project.

In the first presidential election since the Citizens United case transformed the campaign finance landscape, the number of ads airing in the presidential race alone surpassed one million by late October.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.

While 2012 saw a sharp increase in the number of outside interest group players in the election, and corresponding increases in the amount of spending from groups who do not have to disclose their donors, there remained one consistent source of transparency in advertising—the Wesleyan Media Project. A political ad tracking project headed by Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler and colleagues at Bowdoin College and Washington State University, the Wesleyan Media Project provided data and analysis for hundreds of news stories on the election.

“Federal reporting guidelines do not ensure that the public knows who is attempting to influence elections before they go to the ballot box,” Fowler says. “The Wesleyan Media Project’s goal is to provide publicly available information, in real-time, during elections to increase transparency and to better enable citizens to hold various interests accountable.”

The Wesleyan Media Project, established in 2010, is the successor to the Wisconsin Advertising Project, which tracked political ads between 1998 and 2008. The Wesleyan Media Project is supported this year by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, and Wesleyan University.

The Wesleyan Media Project purchases raw data on campaign advertising

China, American Election Roundtable to Include Fowler as Panelist

Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, will be a panelist at a roundtable discussion at Yale University on Monday, Oct. 29. The subject is China and the American Election. Fowler will be joined by James Fallows of The Atlantic, Stephen Roach of the Jackson Institute of Global Affairs and the Yale University School of Management, and Jeremy Wu of the Committee of 100, and former senior advisor to the U.S. Census Bureau. As China’s rapid development, and Sino-American relations continue to be featured in the media during the current U.S. election season, the panelists will offer their perspectives to help situate campaign appeals in the context of American attitudes toward China; Chinese perceptions of the United States; complex economic motivations; and larger campaign dynamics and electoral considerations.

The discussion will begin at 6 p.m. in Room 101 (Henry R. Luce Hall), 34 Hillhouse Ave., New Haven, Conn. It is free and open to the public. RSVP to eastasian.studies@yale.edu by Oct. 26.