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Eagleton Institute of Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics


Eagleton Ad Campaign Advertises Gubernatorial Debates

A major grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and initial support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Community Foundation of New Jersey, have enabled the New Jersey Project of the Eagleton Institute of Politics to launch the first public education campaign to alert voters to the gubernatorial debates.

Meeting the goal of raising $75,000 for the effort has made it possible to implement a plan to place ads in all of New Jersey's weekly and daily newspapers before the second of two debates on October 25 as required under the Election Law Enforcement rules for public funding of the gubernatorial campaign. Ads were run in all weekly newspapers and in all daily papers on Sunday, October 21, Tuesday, October 23 and Thursday, October 25. Before the first debate on October 10, ads were placed once in all the weekly and several daily papers.
The creative work connected with the ads was done pro bono by DKB Partners of Morristown, and the NJ Press Association planned and organized the placement of the ads. The NJ Law Journal contributed an ad.
   View 1st debate ad here (Adobe Acrobat required).
   View 2nd debate ad here (Adobe Acrobat required).

The need for this public education effort was demonstrated once again this year by the lack of advance notice in the newspapers for the first debate on October 10 and minimal mention in the political campaign stories the day of the debate. This confirmed Eagleton's research on the 1997 gubernatorial campaign that showed it was nearly impossible for a voter to find out when the debates were on the air in the absence of an organized effort to publicize the debates. Television pages made no special mention of the debates in paragraph-size features common for special programming. The "grid" of television programs included "gov. debate" only sporadically. News stories about the debates sometimes included information about broadcast time and place, but readers had to seek out these details by carefully reading the campaigns stories. The 2001 advertising program is designed to give the voters an opportunity to be alerted to the debates several days before they are broadcast.

After the election, the Eagleton Institute plans to engage interested individuals and groups in examining how the debates can more effectively reach the voters, both by increasing the number of stations and cable systems that carry the debates and by the public attention that can be brought to the them. We welcome your advice.