This study examines how the campaign information environment influences individuals' ambivalence reduction and polarization. Based on the 2008 presidential television campaign advertising data and individuals' electoral behavior data in 208 designated market areas nationwide, this study utilizes multilevel modeling to better understand the interactions between the effects of individual-level predispositions and that of the contextual-level campaign information environment. The findings of the study indicate that the campaign information environment does matter in ambivalence reduction and polarization. Individuals living in a media market where the volume of campaign advertising is relatively high are less ambivalent and more polarized in candidate evaluations. The patterns appear to be amplified among partisans, suggesting the campaign information environment functions as a "motivator." The partisan bias of the ads in a media market, however, exerts only limited influence. The implications for the functioning of democracy are discussed.
- ambivalence reduction
- campaign information environment
- multilevel modeling
- political advertising