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Allan Louden

Professor of Communication

More information

  • Political Debate
  • Political Communication
  • Political Campaigns
  • Political Advertising
  • Negative Advertising
  • Campaign Rhetoric
  • Political Communication
  • Presidential Rhetoric
  • Negative Campaigning
  • BA, Montana State University
  • MA, University of Montana
  • PhD, University of Southern California

From presidential debates to political advertising, Allan Louden has provided expert commentary and  analysis for USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, Newsweek and a wide range of other media outlets. He analyzes political debates and wrote presidential debate commentaries for the Charlotte Observer during the 2008 election. He follows political advertising and candidates’ debates in presidential, Senate, gubernatorial and high-profile House races.

He has taught a class on negative advertising and has analyzed the ad campaigns of Elizabeth Dole, Kay Hagan, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama and many others for various news outlets. He frequently comments on political advertising strategies and how social media, including viral videos, impact races.

Louden also directed Wake Forest’s nationally-ranked debate program for 30 years and under his leadership, Wake Forest won a national debate championship.

Allan Louden says:

On political advertising…

“Social networking sites allow first-time candidates to get their information out in an affordable way. People can be players who never could before….The Internet has returned a certain level of intimacy to campaigning – something Mr. Obama harnessed well in 2008 when his operation had locals e-mailing one another to ask for donations, talk about issues or propose meetings. Many campaigns are using the Internet to broaden the electorate. What’s happening here a lot is that they can get audiences that were unreachable before.”

On negative campaigning…

“McCain’s barrage of negative ads and charges wasn’t as vicious as the 2004 campaign against John Kerry. McCain was narrative-building. He was trying to plant the idea that the Democratic Illinois senator is simply an attention-craving crowd-pleaser.”

On presidential debates…

“The debates have been one of several factors — including fundraising, big speeches, retail campaigning and TV ads — that have winnowed the Democratic field and defined the race. Gaffes have occasionally put candidates on the defensive. Debates have spotlighted Clinton’s command of policy and have televised Obama’s persuasive abilities unfiltered to a wide audience.… I don’t think an Obama could have happened … absent the Internet and absent this kind of exposure in debates.”

“In the town-hall format, you have to be polite and warm to the audience and respectful to your opponent. That’s going to make it hard for McCain to switch the game in this debate. People also judge candidates by how they treat each other.”