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Race and Gender in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election: A Content Analysis of Editorial Cartoons


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Eileen L. Zurbriggen, Department of Psychology, Room 277, Social Sciences 2, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 [e-mail:].


Previous research has suggested that news and commentary concerning political candidates can vary based on a candidate's gender or race. Race and gender were especially salient in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. A content analysis of editorial cartoons was conducted to examine patterns in content or imagery related to race and gender. Editorial cartoons that featured Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and/or John McCain and were published during the primary season were analyzed. Cartoons featuring Obama were more likely to be favorable than those featuring the other candidates; those featuring Clinton were more likely to be unfavorable. Clinton was more often presented as ugly and small in size than was Obama. Clinton was shown perpetrating violence more often than the male candidates; she was also portrayed as the recipient of particularly gruesome violence. Some cartoons featured imagery or content that relied on racial or gender stereotypes; a qualitative analysis of these cartoons is provided. Overall, findings support previous research showing the continued relevance of race and gender in media coverage of political campaigns.