Online Resources

Sites about the 2008 Campaign

2008: Democracy in Action

Created by citizen journalist Eric Appleman, Democracy in Action's 2008 site is "a real-time library that can help citizens fill gaps in their knowledge as they follow a presidential campaign." Includes detailed information about candidates' policy positions, advertising, and staff.

CNN Politics ElectionCenter2008

Collates up-to-the-minute information about the candidates, including polls. Two special sections, Elections 101 and Jargonbuster, demystify the campaign process.

Political Communications Lab: Campaign 2008

The Political Communications Lab was created to "develop and administer experimental studies of public opinion and political behavior through the use of both online and traditional methods." Results from studies are available on the site, along with information about past and current advertisements.

YouTube's YouChoose

A selection of candidate, party, advocacy group, and independently produced ads curated by YouTube political editor Steve Grove.


An up-to-date record of the candidates' commercials and media appearances, courtesy of Jeff Jarvis.

Tech President

"A new group blog that covers how the 2008 presidential candidates are using the web, and vice versa, how content generated by voters is affecting the campaign."

Political Commercials Funding Political Commercials

"Silent Partners" by the Center for Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity's Silent Partners micro-site explains and tracks the activities of "527 committees," a growing and increasingly influential class of advocacy group. 527 groups and Political Action Committees made the majority of the "Advocacy and Independent Ads" featured in the 2004 and 2008 campaign years.

Open Secrets

The Center for Responsive Politics' Open Secrets website tracks the fundraising and spending activities of candidates, parties, and advocacy groups almost as they happen.

Political Commercial Makers


"SourceWatch is a collaborative project of the Center for Media and Democracy to produce a directory of the people, organizations and issues shaping the public agenda. A primary purpose of SourceWatch is documenting the PR and propaganda activities of public relations firms and public relations professionals engaged in managing and manipulating public perception, opinion and policy."

Media Buying and Commercial Targeting

Wisconsin Advertising Project

This database makes information from the Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) publicly available to researchers. CMAG is a new technology that tracks the time and frequency that political advertisements are aired, and the locations of ad buys.

Political Media Buying: A Brief Guide

A detailed explanation of how commercial buying works, by Tobe Berkovitz, Ph.D., a media buyer and Associate Professor at the College of Communications, Boston University.

Analysis of Political Commercials

"Damned Spot" by SlateV

SlateV's video series offers ongoing analysis of campaign commercials from John Dickerson.

"Dissect an Ad" by POV

This exercise encourages voters to think critically about campaign commercials using examples from the 1994 congressional race between Patrick Kennedy and Kevin Vigilante. "monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases." The site is funded by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

The Role of Media in Elections: Helping Students Understand Media's Influence

"The site is designed to provide teachers with the tools they need to introduce political campaign advertising to their students. Another goal is to assist teachers who want to help their students become aware of the unique techniques of persuasion used in these ads." The site features lesson plans, news, and links to commercials and other resources. The Project on Race in Political Communication

" is designed for individuals interested in matters of race and politics. Students, scholars, educators, political professionals, and members of the press are invited to bookmark this page and visit often for timely and thoughtful analysis, as well as resources relating to racial discourse in America."

History of Political Commercials

"The 30 Second Candidate" by PBS

This 1998 website features a timeline of the history of political commercials, a demonstration of ad-making techniques, and interviews with notable experts on political ads. The "From Idea to Ad" feature gives an in-depth look at how advertising executive Rosser Reeves created the "Eisenhower Answers America" spots.

"Daisy: The Complete History" by Conelrad

A detailed history of "Peace Little Girl," the most famous political ad of all time. The site features primary source documents, oral histories, and other original research.

Other Collections of Political Commercials

"Mixed Messages: Tracking Political Advertising" by The Washington Post

"The database includes political advertisements funded by campaigns, parties, committees, and independent advocacy groups. Most of the ads are tied to specific U.S. House, U.S. Senate, or gubernatorial races throughout the country. Some of the ads are more general ‘issue' or advocacy ads not tied to a particular race or candidate."

EASE History

"Learn about US History through the prism of US presidential campaign ads, better understand the complexities of campaign issues and their historical context by looking at historical events, and explore the meanings of core values by examining how these values have been applied in both historical events and campaign ads."


University of Iowa Communications Studies Resources

The University of Iowa Department of Communications Studies posts this comprehensive page of links to political-commercial resources.

Politics and Presidents Presidential History

The American Presidency Project

Features data and documents on every presidential election and administration, including an archive of over 75,000 documents, such as papers, transcripts of speeches, and party platforms.

American President

"A comprehensive collection of material about the Presidents of the United States and the history of the presidency." Presented by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, this website features biographical essays about Presidents and information about "the history and evolution of presidential duties."

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents

A database of transcripts of every presidential inaugural address through 2001.

Library of Congress's American Memory: Presidential Inaugurations

An online collection of approximately 400 items relating to inaugurations from George Washington's in 1789 to George W. Bush's in 2001. The site includes "diaries and letters of presidents and those who witnessed inaugurations, handwritten drafts of inaugural addresses, broadsides, inaugural tickets and programs, prints, photographs, and sheet music."

President's Hall

Official White House website with portraits of, information on, and biographies of each President.

Presidential Speeches

Database of information and documents on every President, featuring transcripts of speeches, biographies, and essays.

Political Campaigns

Guide to presidential candidates and campaigns from 1960 to the present. Pages for each campaign have images of bumper stickers, selected television commercials, images of websites, campaign brochures, and debate transcripts.

This interactive website helps students "examine how issues they consider important are played out in their own governments and election campaigns." The site features information on issues and candidates, news, discussion forums, and teacher resources. The Student Voices Project is an initiative of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Websites from Prior Presidential Elections

Candidate websites and other informational resources from previous elections are still available online. Some of these historic resources are accessible directly. Candidate websites, as they appeared the day before the respective elections, are accessible through the Internet Archive.


P2004: Democracy in Action

CNN All Politics 2004

Political Communications Lab: Campaign 2004 ( (


CNN All Politics 1996

Clinton-Gore '96 Official Site (Museum of the Moving Image)

Dole-Kemp '96 Official Site (

Lesson Plans

A variety of lesson plans related to advertising and political campaigns are available online for middle-school and high-school teachers. These may be used as a supplement to the lesson plans available on The Living Room Candidate.

Advertising and Media

Exploring Consumerism Where Ads and Art Intersect

This lesson challenges students in grades 6 through 12 to "look closer at the ways that both ads and art can manipulate viewers." Uses examples of art that utilize images from popular culture, and encourages students to interpret and reflect upon advertisements they see.

Identifying and Understanding the Fallacies Used in Advertising

This lesson for students in grades 9 through 12 encourages students to identify and deconstruct common fallacies used in different kinds of advertisements, including campaign commercials.

Political Commercials and Campaigns

It's an Ad Eat Ad World: Creating Presidential Campaign Advertisements

In this lesson, students grades 6 through 12 examine presidential campaign commercials from the 2004 election, reflecting on important campaign issues and creating their own commercials related to a specific issue.

Propaganda Techniques in Literature and Online Political Ads

This lesson for high-school students, grades 9 through 12, introduces propaganda techniques described in literary texts, and encourages students to connect literary depictions of propaganda techniques to those used in political commercials.

General Resources

New York Times Learning Network: Election 2008

Includes background information and news about the current campaign, quizzes, a glossary, and lesson plans for teachers.

Thinkfinity is the Verizon Foundation's "free, comprehensive digital learning platform," featuring discipline-specific, standards-based educational resources, including lesson plans, interactive activities, and other online resources.

Media Construction of Presidential Campaigns

This history web site, created by Ithaca College’s Project Look Sharp, features lesson plans about the role of media in presidential campaigns from 1800 to 2004. The site includes an impressive array of historical images, songs, videos, and more. Lessons and documents are organized according to era, and the entire set is available as a free PDF download.