Date of Award

Spring 4-29-2015

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science and International Affairs

First Advisor

Farnsworth, Stephen

Second Advisor

Kramer, Jack

Major or Concentration

Political Science


Candidate branding in political campaigns acts to convey the ideal image of a candidate molded to represent the specific characteristics important to that candidate's constituency. Campaigns craft a brand around a variety of political and personal qualities and issues that define the candidate as the ideal representative, and simultaneously cast the opponent as the clear antithesis, of the constituency's interests. Conveying the candidate's brand through the media is an integral aspect to bringing the message to voters and driving turn out. However, in a media environment increasingly subservient to economic pressures to produce new, exciting, dramatic, and profitable coverage, a focus on issues and experience is lost in campaign coverage. This study seeks to identify what aspects of candidate brands are more likely to be conveyed through media coverage and what narratives posited by campaigns will be reflected in the news. In this case study of the 2014 U.S. senatorial race in Virginia between incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Republican challenger Ed Gillespie, media content analysis is used to detect how much and what aspects of each candidate's brand is portrayed in media descriptions of the candidates and the campaign.