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Abraham Lincoln's observation that “he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions” remains as true today as it was when Lincoln stated it during his first debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858. It is the quintessential statement of political persuasion, and political persuasion is a critical element of contemporary media democracy. Research on political persuasion cuts across disciplines, engaging scholars in communication, political science, social psychology, and marketing.

Foundations

Political persuasion fits into the general rubric of persuasion because it involves a deliberate attempt to convince people to change their attitudes in an atmosphere of free choice. To be sure, freedom is never absolute and does not operate in all political circumstances, such as coercive attempts at vote suppression. Nonetheless, ...

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