Communication Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


Clifford W. Kelly, Bruce M. Kirk


Advertising, Political, Conservatism United States, Discourse analysis, narrative, Discourse analysis Political aspects, Fisher, Walter R. Philosophy, Republican Party


Arts and Humanities | Broadcast and Video Studies | Communication | Mass Communication | Other American Studies | Public Relations and Advertising | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Influence and Political Communication | Television


Television has changed political discourse. The thirty second commercial has replaced typography and rhetoric. After losing the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections, the Republican National Committee concluded that the GOP has lost the ability to persuade. Walter Fisher's Narrative Paradigm states that meaningful communication is in the form of storytelling, which enables public discourse to observe not only differences, but commonalities. In a postmodern culture that does not believe in absolute truth, this study asked the following question: Are conservatives still using statistics and facts to communicate conservative principles? The rhetorical research conducted here examined the 2013 gubernatorial race in Virginia, specifically television advertisements, to describe, analyze, and compare the rhetoric in campaigns, specifically the narrative elements. As evidenced in this study, conservatives are communicating using rational rhetoric, statistics and facts. Using only 17 percent personal narratives, the Republican candidate's ads failed to provide identification and realism, but the Democrat candidate captured the audience by using narratives 100 percent of the time and first person narratives 66 percent of the time.