Facing Your Competition: Findings from the 2016 Presidential Election

  • Patrick A. StewartEmail author
  • Elena Svetieva
  • Austin Eubanks
  • Jason M. Miller


This chapter expands on the literature concerning media coverage of competition for political office. More specifically, we consider how visual presentation choices of the candidates and their display behavior intersect to influence public perception. We do so by summarizing research carried out concerning visual priming and visual framing during the 2016 presidential election. We first consider the visual frames of presidential candidates in competitive contexts, namely the primary and general election debates. Specifically, we recount findings from a content analysis of the visual frames used during the first two primary debates for each political party, as well as the findings from two field experiments during the general election concerning participant response to the different frames presented by networks during the first debate and available to them during the third debate and how this influenced trait evaluations. We conclude by discussing the interactive influence of the visual presentation styles chosen by networks, the facial displays by the candidates, and the larger context of the election on public perceptions.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick A. Stewart
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elena Svetieva
    • 2
  • Austin Eubanks
    • 1
  • Jason M. Miller
    • 3
  1. 1.University of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  2. 2.University of ColoradoColorado SpringsUSA
  3. 3.The University of KansasLawrenceUSA

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