Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Sarah Allen Gershon

Second Advisor

Sean Richey

Third Advisor

Judd Thornton


During the most recent presidential election, campaign rhetoric frequently took on an unusually aggressive tone. This shift in tone was matched by frequent displays of violent interactions between supporters and protestors at several campaign events. Further, once violent responses were elicited, these supporters were often applauded for their behavior and offered further support. These simultaneous trends offer new opportunities to research the ways in which campaigns attempt to influence voter behavior. Specifically, it is prudent to question how candidates stylize their rhetoric to elicit stronger behavioral responses from potential voters, and the effect that these appeals have on voters. Considering the historic nature of this election, I seek to investigate how candidates utilize rhetoric in campaign rally speeches to appeal to voters and elicit stronger displays of support. Using a content analysis of general election campaign rally speeches, cross-sectional survey data, and original experimental data, I examine the relationship between threat frames about immigrants in rally speeches, attitudes towards immigrants, and attitudes towards and willingness to engage in violence by individuals.


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Available for download on Thursday, December 07, 2023