Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


As more women seek election to national political offices, and as political spot ads continue to play a vital role as a major medium through which campaigns present their candidate, this qualitative analysis examines the image-building strategies one female candidate employed in her spot ads and the potential for such strategies to overcome gender-culture constraints. This study answers four research questions: 1. What rhetorical strategies does Northup employ to build an image in her televised campaign spot ads, 2. Do these strategies fulfill the six dimensions employed by this thesis to fulfill the voter's image prototype of a candidate, 3. Do Northup's rhetorical strategies provide a fitting response to the rhetorical situation of her 1998 congressional reelection campaign, and 4. Or, does Northup, through her image building strategies, alter the rhetorical situation such that the original constraints are modified and the requirements of the fitting response thus shift to a newly created rhetorical situation? In order to respond to these questions, I utilize Bitzer's rhetorical situation construct to identify the multiple exigences, audiences, and constraints to which Northup must respond through her discourse. Additionally, I employ a candidate prototype that consists of the dimensions of competence, reliability, integrity, charisma, observable features, and consubstantiality, to identify Northup's image-building strategies. Not only do I argue that Northup's image building strategies fulfill the six dimensions of the candidate prototype but that two rhetorical situations evolve to which Northup must respond. Based on the fitting response criteria discussed, she provides correctives to the actual exigences and upholds the audience's expectations that she respond appropriately in both the cultural and institutional senses.


Communication | Political Science