Fact-checks have become prolific in U.S. campaigns over the last ten years. As a result, fact-checks have become one of the easiest ways for individuals to analyze the truthfulness of politicians’ statements. The increase in both fact-checking and its accessibility to voters led us to ask whether fact-checks influence individuals’ attitudes and evaluations of political candidates and campaign messages. To examine the impact of fact-checking, we conduct two original experiments using the 2012 Ohio Senate race between Republican challenger Josh Mandel and Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. The first experiment utilized a sample of over 300 students during the fall of 2013. The second experiment is a crowdsourced Amazon Mechanical Turk Sample in the fall of 2014. We find the content of fact-check messages are influential in altering assessments of candidates’ advertisements. We also find the source of the fact-check only modestly impacts assessments. The findings illustrate the potential power of fact-checks to influence the effectiveness of candidates’ messages and reaffirm the important role the news media plays in validating candidate claims and arguments during political campaigns.
- election campaign
- media effects
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science