Campaign advertising seeks to sway minds up to the last minute

By John Rosin

Campaign advertisements unabashedly seek to sway your mind as they glorify candidates, nudge opinions and try to cinch the outcome of an election.

The election between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia marks the first mayoral runoff for Chicago, and the two candidates produced a downpour of different kinds of endorsements that continue through the last hours of the election.

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Campaign Ads MOS from Medill Reports on Vimeo.

“On a lot of the issues it can seem that they are very similar,” said Rebecca Reynolds, a volunteer for Chicago Votes, a nonprofit organization aimed toward increasing young voter turnout. “Where their advertisements differ is how they attack one another and where they go when they do.”

Entrepreneurs hoping to capitalize on the Chicago elections created buttons for each of the candidates. (

Emanuel’s campaign took aim at Garcia’s lack of ability to run things on a grand scale, while Garcia criticized Emanuel for closing schools and claimed he ignored  the neighborhoods and only cared about the “one percent,” Reynolds said.

During the six weeks of the runoff campaign, Emanuel spent about $3.5 million to air more than 2,000 campaign ads on television – about 40 a day – while Garcia spent $1.7 million for 913 commercials, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

“I believe it’s kind of unnecessary, really, just spending too much money on just advertising yourself,” said Michael Washington, a student at Harold Washington College. “You could’ve been using that money to help out communities in need.”

While each candidate put millions of dollars into their respective endorsements, there were voters that didn’t see many of the ads.

“Honestly, I don’t have a TV. And I don’t have a car. So their advertising hasn’t reached me,” said Andy Sullivan, a volunteer for Chicago Votes. “I’ve been stuck doing my own research on the candidates.”

Of course, even without a TV, those tried and true campaign buttons still carry campaign messages everywhere.

Entrepreneurs hoping to capitalize on the Chicago elections created buttons for each of the candidates. (


Specific financing provided by both Emanuel and Garcia – or any candidate for that matter – prove who each candidate is interested in gaining a vote from, Sullivan said.

“Each candidate has different interests, and the way they’re funding reflects those interests,” said Sullivan. “If you look at the communities that each candidate is actually speaking to… you see who actually matters to them in the long run.”

Despite the amount of money poured into advertising their respective campaigns, Emanuel and Garcia remain in a tight race. The results of the election will be available once polls close at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

Photo at top: Campaign advertisements for Rahm and Chuy can be seen throughout Chicago  (Adriana Cargill/Medill)