Effects of endorser types in political endorsement advertising

Hsuan-Yi Chou

National Sun Yat-sen University

Introduction

Independent voters are actively pursued by candidates during elections, because their voting preferences can easily be changed (Wang 2010) and their votes significantly affect the results of many elections (Castells 2007). For example, in the 2012 presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan (where the author conducted this study), independent voters were the major target of each party/campaign as their voting decisions were critical in determining which candidate would win the election (Hsieh et al. 2011). Post-election commentary attributed President Ying-Jeou Ma’s success to attracting more votes from independents (China Review News 2012).

Despite the importance of independent voters, scholars have continued to emphasise party identifiers in existing research (Wang 2010). How independent voters make voting decisions and how they may be influenced by political communication remain under-researched issues (Girvan et al. 2010). Previous studies on independent voters have focused primarily on the stage of descriptive study, with the purpose of enhancing understanding of the basic characteristics of these voters (e.g. Dennis 1992; Phan & Garcia 2009; Wang 2010). However, election personnel are more interested in learning how to effectively persuade independent voters to support their candidates. Thus, the research motivation behind this study is to explore how to influence independent voters through political ads.