Picturing the Senate Candidates: Image Building in the Twitterverse

  • Nicole Smith Dahmen


In late Spring 2014, Joni Ernst was a relatively unknown name in Iowa (Rucker & Balz, 2014). Then she released a provocative ad that immediately went viral, propelling her to the top of the Republican primary and to an eventual victory in the Iowa Senate race. The “squeal” ad became the talk of cable news and was viewed nearly 4,000 times on YouTube in the first three days. The ad showed Ernst in a hog barn, boasting that her experiences “castrating hogs” on an Iowa farm prepared her to “cut pork” in Washington. After eschewing her conservative values, the ad concludes with the infamous line, “Let’s make ‘em squeal.” Of the ad, Philip Rucker and Dan Balz (2014) of the Washington Post wrote, “At a time when voters tune out many political messages, the ad was a vivid reminder of the enduring power of a single image” (para. 2).


Social Media Social Networking Site Presidential Election Political Communication Person Perception 
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© Nicole Smith Dahmen 2016

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  • Nicole Smith Dahmen

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