An Unprecedented Election
Media, Communication, and the Electorate in the 2016 Campaign
by Benjamin R. Warner, Dianne G. Bystrom, Mitchell S. McKinney, and Mary C. Banwart, Editors
February 2018, 450pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6065-2
$85, £66, 74€, A117
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6066-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election was unexpected by experts and statistical models; the Princeton Election Consortium and Huffington Post Pollster models predicted otherwise.

Written by leading scholars in the field of political communication, this book provides a comprehensive accounting of the campaign communication that characterized the unprecedented 2016 presidential campaign.

The political events leading up to election day on November 8, 2016, involved unprecedented events in U.S. history: Hillary Clinton was the first female to be nominated by a major party, and she was favored to win the highest seat in the nation. Donald Trump, arguably one of the most unconventional and most-unlikely-to-succeed candidates in U.S. history, became the leading candidate against Clinton. Then, an even more surprising thing happened: Trump won, an outcome unexpected by all experts and statistical models.

An Unprecedented Election: Media, Communication, and the Electorate in the 2016 Campaign presents proprietary research conducted by a national election team and leading scholars in political communication and documents the most significant—and in some cases, the most shocking—features of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The information presented in this book is derived from national surveys, experiments, and textual analysis, and it will help readers to grasp the truly unique characteristics of this campaign that make it unlike any other in U.S. history. The chapters explain the underlying dynamics of this astonishing election by assessing the important role of both traditional and social media, the evolving (and potentially diminishing) influence of televised campaign advertisements, the various implications of three historic presidential debates, and the contextual significance of convention addresses. Readers will come away with an appreciation of the content and effects of the campaign communication and media coverage as well as the unique attributes of the electorate that ultimately selected Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.


  • Provides detailed coverage of the most salient issues in the 2016 campaign from multiple perspectives and frames of reference
  • Presents contributions from top scholars in political communication representing the very best doctoral programs in the field, including numerous past presidents of the National Communication Association's political communication division
  • Includes all-original, multi-methodological, quantitative and qualitative research, giving readers a fuller understanding of the trends in and effects and content of political communication in the election
Benjamin R. Warner, PhD, is assistant professor of communication at the University of Missouri. He has published articles and book chapters examining the polarizing effects of partisan media, new media echo-chambers, and presidential debates.

Dianne G. Bystrom, PhD, has served as director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University since 1996. She has contributed to 21 books—including alieNATION: The Divide and Conquer Election of 2012, Gender and Elections, and Gender and Campaign Communication—as a coauthor, coeditor, or chapter author. She also has published journal articles on women and politics, youth voters, and the Iowa caucus. Bystrom has received awards for her leadership, service, and contributions to diversity.

Mitchell S. McKinney, PhD, is professor of communication at the University of Missouri and currently serves as faculty fellow for academic personnel in the Office of the Provost. McKinney is one of our nation's leading scholars of presidential debates, having served as an adviser to the U.S. Commission on Presidential Debates, where his work was instrumental in developing the presidential Town Hall debate. He is the author or coauthor of nine books and numerous journal articles and book chapters.

Mary C. Banwart, PhD, is associate professor in the Communication Studies Department at the University of Kansas and director of the Institute for Leadership Studies. She has authored or coauthored book chapters and journal articles on subjects such as the influence of gender in candidate presentation styles in political campaigns, the evaluation of female and male candidates, the gender gap, and how gender influences one's likelihood to feel competent to talk about politics.


"Any researcher, from the mildly curious to the 24-hour-cable-news-cycle obsessed, will find something of interest in these pages."—Booklist, June 1, 2018

"This scholarly, balanced compilation effectively sheds light on an election that continues to confound experts and prognosticators alike, presenting not only original insights into the events and outcomes of 2016 but also clues of what may lie ahead. VERDICT Political junkies and undergraduate/graduate students will find this a clear-sighted resource."—Library Journal, June 15, 2018

"This volume adds to the literature by offering a look at this event through an academic lens situated in the communication discipline. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty."—Choice, August 1, 2018

"These academic studies are built around carefully defined hypotheses with narrowly drawn results and therefore do not provide a blueprint for future candidates to follow. Their value is to portray how the 2016 election broke all the rules. Because this research was conducted soon after the election, the dynamics of the campaign and the perceptions and opinions of the American electorate were captured while the campaign cycle was still fresh in the public mind, providing a rich resource for scholars as we get further removed from this tumultuous election."—ARBA, August 4, 2018

"This book, involving some of the nation's most renowned scholars of political communication as well as many of its most promising newcomers, takes on the important topic of the 2016 election through rigorous application of methods and theories from quantitative, qualitative, and rhetorical perspectives. The chapters offer important and multilayered analyses of media practices, candidate communication, and the electorate. It's a must-read for historians, communication scholars, political scientists, and anyone who wants to understand this election and the state of our national politics.”—Mary E. Stuckey, Professor, Communication Arts and Sciences, Penn State University, and Editor, Quarterly Journal of Speech

"The editors of this timely and important volume have gathered some of the top scholars of political communication to help reveal the factors that shaped the 2016 campaign cycle. Whether concerned with the role of race and gender, social media, selective exposure, partisan news, political satire, or incivility in campaigning, this collection will alter our understanding of this unprecedented election."—Dhavan V. Shah, Maier-Bascom Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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