The American Museum of the Moving Image is hosting an exhibition called Living Room Candidate — dozens of political ads spanning 1952 to the present illustrating how presidential candidates have used the medium of television to convey message through the years, and how those ads have mirrored the TV styles of their times. Most of the early ads seem so naive by today’s standards — silly cartoons of marching elephants, donkeys, and hard-working Americans, or pretty girls singing content-free political ditties. Some are just plain bizarre.
A surprising number feature life-long devotees of one party or another switching party loyalties, like this 1964 Confessions of a Republican (I hear this ad was later criticized for being scripted and played by an actor). Fast forward to 2004 – ads cover 5 subjects in 30 seconds, and end debating who still has shrapnel in their leg from Vietnam.
Anyway, the site is a great record of a half century of TV politics. The clips are like peanuts, hard to stop watching.