The Media, the Campaign, and the Message


  • Julianne F. Flowers,

  • Audrey A. Haynes,

  • Michael H. Crespin

Julianne F. Flowers is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, Georgia State University ( Audrey A. Haynes is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Georgia ( Michael H. Crespin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, Michigan State University (


This article examines the 1996 press releases issued by Republican presidential nominee candidates during the invisible primary and the subsequent stories generated by these press releases in newspapers. We systematically examine how campaigns structure their messages, which messages are transmitted by the press to the voting public, and what factors influence the transmission of the campaign's message. We find that campaign organizations disseminate a variety of messages to the media. Our analysis demonstrates that national media organizations are most receptive to informative (logistical) messages disseminated by candidates who are at the head of the field and most hostile to substantive (issue-oriented) messages regardless of their campaign of origin. By contrast, the state press is most open to substantive messages issued by lower-tier candidates. It appears from our results that the media, more than the campaign, bear the responsibility for the emphasis on the horse race.