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Campaigns and Elections. History and Strategy. I. History. The non-candidate (1792-1824): Early candidates considered it unseemly to “campaign.” Organizations and friendly papers do the work. 1. Campaigns are Personal and Ugly (1800 example).

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Campaigns and elections l.jpg

Campaigns and Elections

History and Strategy


I history l.jpg
I. History

  • The non-candidate (1792-1824): Early candidates considered it unseemly to “campaign.” Organizations and friendly papers do the work.


1 campaigns are personal and ugly 1800 example l.jpg
1. Campaigns are Personal and Ugly (1800 example)

  • Jefferson: Adams has a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman”

    • Jefferson hires a “hatchet man” for his worst slurs. James Callendar. He alleges Adams is bent on war with France

    • Callendar is imprisoned for slander under Adams

    • Jefferson fails to aid him upon release  Callendar reveals Jefferson’s affair with his slave Sally Hemings

  • Pro-Adams papers:

    • Jefferson is “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”

    • “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will all be openly taught and practiced”


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2. “Ads” are editorials and editorial cartoons

  • Example: Divine intervention saves America from Jefferson’s tyranny


B symbolic politics 1828 1860 l.jpg
B. Symbolic Politics, 1828-1860

  • Symbols useful for personalized campaigns – reflect personality traits

  • Also useful when illiteracy is widespread

  • Origins: Jackson’s campaign of 1828 (Old Hickory).

    • Jackson learns from failure to campaign in 1824, mobilizes mass support

    • Characterized by de-emphasis of issue positions (Jackson refuses to render opinion on Adams economic policies)  1828 might be most negative campaign in history


C mudslinging in 1828 adams targets jackson l.jpg
c. Mudslinging in 1828: Adams Targets Jackson

  • One Adams paper: “General Jackson's mother was a common prostitute, brought to this country by the British soldiers! She afterward married a mulatto man, with whom she had several children, of which number General Jackson is one!”

  • Jackson accused of murder for ordering execution of six militiamen for desertion in War of 1812

  • Jackson accused of adultery and his wife of bigamy (her divorce may not have been final when she married Jackson)


1828 adams campaign song jackson plague and pestilence l.jpg
1828: Adams Campaign Song: Jackson = “Plague and Pestilence”

  • “Little Know Ye Who’s Comin’”

  • Sample lines:

    • Fire's comin', swords is comin',

    • Pistols, guns and knives is comin',

    • Famine's comin', bannin's comin',

    • If John Quincy not be comin'!

    • Slavery's comin', knavery's comin‘…

    • Tears are comin', fears are comin',

    • Plague and pestilence is comin',

    • Hatin's comin’, Satan's comin‘…

  • So wonderfully (horribly) negative it was covered by band Piñataland for use against Bush in 2004


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d. 1828: Jackson Strikes Back Pestilence”

  • Rumor: Adams, while serving as American ambassador to Russia, had procured an American girl for the sexual services of the Russian czar  Jackson men call Adams a “pimp”

  • Adams charged with using government money to buy a billiard table for his own amusement (he bought it himself)


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4. 1840: Pestilence”Log Cabin and Hard Cider

  • Memorabilia: Hundreds of objects (ribbons and postcards) emphasize log cabin


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5. Issues Overtake Symbols Pestilence”a. 1848: Free Soil Campaigns against Slavery

(Campaign songs commonly set to well-known tunes like Yankee Doodle or Auld Lang Syne)

  • Note: VP candidate is son of Pres JQ Adams, son of Pres Adams



C republicans vs democrats the slavery issue l.jpg
c. Republicans vs. Democrats: The Slavery Issue Fremont (R) and Buchanan (D)

  • 1856: “Clear the Tracks” (Republican song about Fremont – refers to Kansas violence)

  • 1860: “The Flag of Liberty” (Patriotism associated with policies to “break oppression’s chain”)


C politics of division 1860 1892 l.jpg
C. Politics of Division, 1860-1892 Fremont (R) and Buchanan (D)

  • Symbols now = Issues.

    1. 1860 and 1864 – focus on Union


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2. “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion” 1868-1892 Fremont (R) and Buchanan (D)

  • “Waving the Bloody Shirt:” Republicans criticize Democrats as party of treason (Rebellion).

    1868 Grant slogan: “Vote as You Shot”


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1868: Anti-Democratic Cartoons Fremont (R) and Buchanan (D)


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  • 1868: Democrats run on white power Fremont (R) and Buchanan (D)

  • Sample lyrics (sung to Auld Lang Syne)

    • Let, then, all freeborn patriots,

    • Join with a brave intent

    • To vindicate our Father’s choice,

    • “A white man’s Government.”


1876 robert ingersoll reminds listeners of democratic treason l.jpg
1876: Robert Ingersoll Reminds Listeners of Democratic Treason

  • Speech to Union veterans of Civil War in Indianapolis

    “Every ordinance of secession that was drawn was drawn by a Democrat. Every man that endeavored to tear the old flag from the heaven that it enriches was a Democrat. Every man that tried to destroy this nation was a Democrat. Every enemy this great Republic has had for twenty years has been a Democrat. Every man that shot Union soldiers was a Democrat. Every man that denied to the Union prisoners even the worm-eaten crust of famine, and when some poor, emaciated Union patriot, driven to insanity by famine, saw in an insane dream the face of his mother, and she beckoned him and he followed, hoping to press her lips once again against his fevered face, and when he stepped one step beyond the dead line the wretch that put the bullet through his loving, throbbing heart was and is a Democrat. Every man that loved slavery better than liberty was a Democrat. The man that assassinated Abraham Lincoln was a Democrat. Every man that sympathized with the assassin — every man glad that the noblest President ever elected was assassinated, was a Democrat. Every man that wanted the privilege of whipping another man to make him work for him for nothing and pay him with lashes on his naked back, was a Democrat. Every man that raised bloodhounds to pursue human beings was a Democrat. Every man that clutched from shrieking, shuddering, crouching mothers, babes from their breasts, and sold them into slavery, was a Democrat. … Soldiers, every scar you have on your heroic bodies was given you by a Democrat. Every scar, every arm that is lacking, every limb that is gone, is a souvenir of a Democrat. I want you to recollect it.”


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b. Democrat-Catholic alliance (Romanism) Treason

  • Anti-immigrant sentiment in general, plus

  • Opposition of pro-Republican English-American families to Ireland, plus

  • Dislike of Midwestern Protestants for Catholicism

  • Led to Irish-Democrat alliance. Republicans run anti-Catholic and anti-Irish campaigns



C prohibition issue rum l.jpg
c. Prohibition issue (Rum) Treason

  • Connected to Irish issue (stereotyping)

  • National Prohibition Party established but fails (Republicans simply shift to incorporate issue)

  • 1880-1890: Wave of state anti-saloon laws (issue more potent locally than nationally)


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3. Machine Politics and the Issue of Character Treason

  • Republicans vs. Liberal Republicans: The debate over civil service reform (see 1876 in Election Day)

  • 1884: Liberal Republicans support the Democrat Cleveland. Unusually competitive election  dirtiest campaign of 19th century

    • Cleveland: “Public Office is a Public Trust” (implies opponent is corrupt)


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ii. Cleveland’s Sex Scandal Treason

  • Cleveland believed to have fathered child with well-known prostitute.

  • Accepts responsibility

  • Republican chant: “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?”


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iii. Blaine’s Railroad Scandal Treason

  • Blaine wrote letters during scandal implying he took money for railroad contracts. Last sentence of one letter = “Burn this letter.”

  • Democratic chant:

    • “Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine! The

      continental liar from the state of Maine,

      Burn this letter!”


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iv. Denouement: The battle for New York Treason

  • Blaine fails to immediately disavow “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion” slogan  Irish voters turn to Cleveland

  • New York World publishes exaggerated depictions of Blaine feasting at Republican dinner while country is in depression

  • Blaine loses New York by 1149 votes


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v. The Sequel: Dirty Tricks Unseat Cleveland in 1888 Treason

  • Cleveland vulnerable in New York's sizable Irish community after his administration negotiated a fisheries treaty with the British Empire (hated by the Irish)  Cross-pressured voters!

  • Republican George Osgoodby sent a letter to the British ambassador to the United States under the pretense that he was a British expatriate named Charles Murchison who wanted to know which candidate would best "favor England's interests."

  • Ambassador endorses Cleveland  Republicans use “Murchison Letter” to drive a wedge between Cleveland and Irish voters


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5. Publicity stunts and technology Treason

  • Edison’s gramophone allows recorded speeches and campaign songs.

  • Cleveland 1892: Publicity stunt only (few own gramophones, which are unsuitable for mass listening anyway)

  • Player piano rolls and cylinders of popular campaign songs become common


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D. Populism and Progressivism (1896-1920) Treason

  • Republicans back away from support for civil rights (support for Plessy vs. Ferguson)  race issue loses salience for white voters

  • Economic issues and social reforms gain prominence

  • The 1896 Campaign: Free Silver vs. the Full Dinner Pail and the “front porch” strategy -- See Election Day for context

  • Significant foreign policy differences re-emerge by 1900


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E. Origins of Polls and Paid Advertisements (1924-1948) Treason

  • Literary Digest poll

    • Begun as publicity stunt in 1920, proves remarkably accurate (within 1% in 1932)

    • Fails miserably in 1936: Predicts landslide for Landon (55 to 41) when real outcome is landslide for Roosevelt (61 to 37) – 20% error!

    • Why did it fail? Non-representative sample (automobile registrations and telephone books) and voluntary response (2.3 million out of 10 million)

    • Why did it work for so long? Remarkable consensus and stability in electorate…


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2. Gallup and Scientific Polling Treason

  • Gallup predicts Roosevelt victory with smaller sample (about 2000 vs. 2.3 million)

  • Gallup also correctly predicts the Literary Digest prediction before the postcards are counted!

  • Method = quota polling (trying to ensure sample matches proportions in population)

  • Major failure in 1948: Quota polling replaced with random sampling (still used today)


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3. Origins of Mass Media Campaigns Treason

  • Factors affecting print political advertising: Increased magazine circulation, national newspapers, news magazines (Time founded in 1923), mass literacy



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b. Local campaigns focus on local issues (diminished party control)

  • Example: Anti-Japanese racism in California, 1924


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c. Use of Motion Pictures control)

  • Only way to see a candidate speak or watch an event unfold

  • 1920: “Candidate” Coolidge makes the first political “talkie”

  • 1934: MGM runs fake “California Election News” newsreels against Upton Sinclair in California governor’s race


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d. The Effect of Radio control)

  • First convention covered by radio in 1924

  • National networks emerge from 1926-1927

  • Radio ownership (households):

    • 4.7% in 1924

    • 27.5% in 1928

    • 60% in 1932

  • First paid political spots: President Calvin Coolidge spends more than $100,00 to broadcast his speeches in 1924

  • First national political spots: 1928 (52 hours by Democrats, 43 hours by Republicans)

  • 1932: Democrats use same amount, but Republicans increase to 72 hours!



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1932: Republicans increase air time to 72 hours – and lose control)

  • Hoover discovers that style matters as much as substance when he angers listeners by speaking too long

  • Example: Tuesday, October 4, at 8:30 P.M. Speech lasts far more than the expected hour:

    • “(At 9:30) listeners confidently awaited the President’s concluding words. Confidently and also impatiently, for at 9:30 … Mr. Ed Wynn comes on the air. But Mr. Hoover had only arrived at point 2 of his 12-point program. The populace shifted in its myriad seats; wives looked at husbands; children allowed to remain up until 10 o’clock on Tuesdays looked in alarm at the clock; 20,000 votes shifted to Franklin Roosevelt. At 9:45, Mr. Hoover had arrived at point four; two million Americans switched off their instruments and sent their children to bed weeping.” – The Nation


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Roosevelt: Master of Radio control)

  • Roosevelt addresses audience intimately (aware that people listen to radio in small groups, not huge crowds)

  • “Fireside chats”


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F. Dawn of the Television Age control)

  • 1948: Coverage of conventions (although few own televisions). 3 of 4 conventions held in Philadelphia to enable widest TV coverage.

  • Truman prepares 1-minute spot in 1948, but Dewey sees advertising as undignified ignoring advice of consultants


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3. 1952: TV is undignified…but effective control)

  • "The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process."

    • Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson, 1956

  • Eisenhower has a product jingle in 1952…and wins!



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4. Putting It All Together: Political Consultants control)

  • 1948: Truman hires PR firm to manage his flagging campaign. Combination of ads, whistle-stop campaign, publicity stunts (TV coverage), and consistent message (“do-nothing Congress”) lead to victory

  • Other campaigns emulate Truman’s success, adding more sophisticated techniques over time


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II. Modern Campaign Strategy control)

A. Strategy = Overall plan for victory. Determines:

  • Who: the voters you need to win

  • Why: the reasons they will vote for you

  • What: the unifying message to address them

  • How: acquiring resources to campaign


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B. District Analysis: What are the odds? control)

  • Voting patterns: Which party dominates and why?

    • Neither: District is competitive

    • Loyalty: One party is favored. Capturing voters will require de-emphasizing party and emphasizing ideology

    • Ideology: One ideology is favored. Candidate ideology must adapt in response.


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2. Demographics: Which groups will be critical? control)

  • Noncompetitive groups – Mobilize or Suppress

  • Nonvoting groups – Ignore (especially relevant in primary elections)

  • Competitive voting groups – Persuade

    • Hillygus & Shields – who is competitive and how to persuade them is most of the book!

    • Figure 4.1: even highly cross-pressured partisans usually remain loyal

    • Figures 4.2 and 4.3: characteristics of voter (attentiveness, awareness) more important than campaign visits in 2004, but opposite true in 2000  how do we know when “persuasion” is more important than simply getting people to pay attention?


C issue analysis comparing assets and liabilities l.jpg
C. Issue Analysis: Comparing Assets and Liabilities control)

  • Mobilization issues: Increase or decrease base turnout. (May also affect vote choice of swing voters  Hillygus & Shields argue that 2004 “mobilization” issues were really “wedge” issues)

  • Wedge issues: Create a gap between opposition candidate and swing voters or “persuadable partisans” (pro-opposition leaners)

  • Policy issues: Problem/blame and solution/promise format


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4. Issues from 2004 (Hillygus & Shields survey data) control)

  • Three types of issues

    • Mobilization Issues: Economy, Iraq War, War on Terror, Tax Cuts, Trade  mostly economy/security issues

    • Wedge Issues: Faith-Based Initiatives, School Prayer, Abortion, Prescription Drug Imports, Gay Marriage  mostly “social values” issues

    • Policy Issues: Few “neutral” policy dilemmas

  • Is this why politicians don’t focus on “key issues” or “real solutions” instead of “symbolic issues?”


D the message l.jpg
D. The Message control)

  • The need for themes of support and opposition

    • Self-definition: One word or phrase to summarize reason for campaign. Examples: Clinton 1992 = change, Bush 1992 = “family values,” Bush 2004 = 9/11, Obama 2008 = change, McCain 2008 = patriotism  change

    • Opposition: one word or phrase to summarize opponent; reinforce with issue ads and character ads. Examples: Bush I = “out of touch,” Dole = desperate, Bush II = dumb, Gore = liar, Kerry = flip-flop, Obama = elitist, McCain = “four more years”


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2. The need for repetition: Choices within the message control)

  • People remember very little from ads or news stories. Facts help imprint message, but won’t be recalled later.

  • Repeating the same facts bores people (voters become accustomed to highs/lows)

  • Solution: Reinforce the basic (often unstated) message with multiple examples (Opposition: Bush saying dumb things, Gore lying, Kerry shifting positions, etc)

  • Goal = voters remember/agree with the basic criticism (filter future news through that lens)


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3. Targeting the Message control)

  • Microtargeting: Communicating different messages to different voters. H&S link this to pre-TV campaigns and argue it made a resurgence in the 1990s.

  • Question: Has the Internet made this harder (because message can be retransmitted by others) or easier (because users self-select into narrow forums)?

  • Method: Personal visits matter more than ads (see H&S)


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4. Limits of the message control)

  • Candidates don’t control agenda – news organizations and interest groups raise “off-message” issues that can become critical

  • Negative message sticks better than positive message – i.e. easier to define opponent than self


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E. Fundraising: It’s hard for a beginner control)

  • Major donor approach: Need to establish credibility; hard money goes to winners

  • Issue organizations: Need credibility AND compatible policy positions (danger of extremism compared to electorate)

  • Direct mail and Telemarketing: Administrative costs eat up much of the money

  • Grassroots: Takes a great deal of candidate time and attention. Possible selling point in ads.


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04 06 08 control)


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F. Building the Machine control)

  • Campaign manager (scheduling, coordination)

  • Consultants (strategy, polling and research)

  • Media relations

  • Foot Soldiers: Mass of employees or volunteers to spread the message, create signs, make phone calls, solicit donations, etc.


Iii campaign tactics l.jpg
III. Campaign Tactics control)

  • Opposition research

    • Small campaigns: Read through minutes or Congressional record, news appearances, public records (FOIA)

    • Large campaigns: Permanent surveillance, interviews with past acquaintances

    • Most important skill: Convincing the media to use the information

    • Most opposition research done prior to campaign: need for steady dribble of damage (so scandals don’t crowd each other out – each piece of information must get full airing in media)

    • If tide turns in media, respond with new leak before public realizes old one was false (causes old one to leave front page)


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B. Polling control)

  • Interpreting Polls

    • Sample size – Generally less important than random selection/representativeness. Larger sample = smaller…

    • Margin of error – Given laws of probability and assumptions about respondents (normal distribution), likely range of true value

    • Confidence level – Typically 95% confidence that true value is within margin of error.




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Error vs. Bias: control)Compare Clinton

  • Fox over-estimated Bush popularity, Zogby underestimated Bush popularity

  • Was this political bias? Estimates of Clinton popularity 


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3. Polling Techniques control)

  • Internal polls: Used to measure message penetration, allocate resources

  • Manipulation of Polls: Selective publication of internal polls or slanted wording in order to generate “momentum” (remember: big money bets on winners – and so do voters!)


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c. Tracking Polls control)

  • Same question asked many times, often with overlapping samples.

  • Generally considered less reliable (smaller samples, high volatility)


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d. Push Polls: “Polls” in Name Only control)

  • Method: Voter gets a call, ostensibly from a polling company, asking which candidate the voter supports. If the voter supports the “wrong” candidate, then the pollster asks whether voter would still support candidate if they knew… (insert rumor or allegation here)

  • Response irrelevant: Voter exposed to charges


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Two examples in McCain races control)

  • Vs. McCain in the South Carolina Republican Primary, 2000:

    • The McCains adopted a Bangladeshi girl from Mother Theresa’s orphanage.

    • Anonymous opponents (usually assumed to be Bush surrogates) used "push polling" to ask would-be supporters if they would be more or less likely to vote for McCain if they knew was the father of an illegitimate child who was Black


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Two examples in McCain races control)

  • Vs. Obama in Swing States, 2008

    • “Republican Jewish Coalition” sponsors poll whish asks Jewish Obama supporters if they would support him knowing that

      • He is a Muslim (false)

      • He funded the PLO (false)

      • He was endorsed by Hamas (true – although Obama condemned the group)


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C. Media Relations control)

  • Spin Control – Instantaneous response to attacks (before uncontested attack gets on the air). Slow response = no response since story fades from view over time.


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2. Debates control)

  • Debating acknowledges equality – Leading candidates usually refuse

  • Debates are rarely debates – candidates write the rules, fear off-script moments


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c. Development control)

  • 1960: TV vs. radio (impressions of Nixon)

  • 1976 (next debate): Ford offends East Europeans and Cold Warriors

  • 1980, 1984: Development of sound-bites

  • 1988: Vice-Presidential debate and the overly-rational Dukakis

  • 1992: Three-way format creates new rules, tactics

  • 2000, 2004: Rules limit spontaneity; ratings decline


Do debates matter l.jpg
Do Debates Matter? control)

  • Not to partisans or people with strong opinions

  • Nonpartisans and less-informed voters are affected


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3. Public Events control)

  • Key to successful speeches is media coverage

  • Incumbents have edge because they can issue policy changes

  • Candidates now filter crowds (i.e. only Bush supporters allowed to attend his speeches)


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4. Investigative Journalism: Don’t Count On It control)

  • Most notable investigative reports are “seeded” by campaigns (e.g. Dukakis undermines Biden in 1988 primaries)

  • Media focus: Horse-Race stories

    • 45% of campaign news stories focus on horse-race/strategy

    • 29% focus on campaign issues

    • Less than 1% analyze and critique campaign ads


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D. Advertising control)

  • Central goal: Reinforce the message about the candidate and the opponent


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2. Secondary Goals control)

  • Name recognition – Very important for all except general election for President

  • Alter issue salience – Prime voters to think about a particular issue controlled by one side



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2. Secondary Goals control)

  • Name recognition – Very important for all except general election for President

  • Alter issue salience – Prime voters to think about a particular issue controlled by one side

  • Mobilization – Make supporters think that getting to the polls matters. LBJ: “The stakes are too high for you to stay home.”

  • Suppression – Make likely opponents think that no candidate represents them


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3. Tools of the Trade control)

  • Repetition – Within ads as well as between them

  • Syntax – Long sentences for nuance, fragments for blunt messages

  • “Loaded Words” – See handout


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d. “Code Words” and Prejudice control)

  • Many people have prejudices they don’t believe are prejudices  they reject open bigotry but buy into stereotypes

  • The trick: Appeal to prejudice without using openly bigoted language or arguments

  • Examples

    • Republicans (race): “White Hands,” Willie Horton, Immigration (and “those who don’t belong”)

    • Democrats: The Truth About Furloughs, “Hair Salon” Immigration, Rocking Chairs


E audiovisual cues l.jpg
e. Audiovisual Cues control)

  • Suggest evil – B/W footage, grainy film, ominous music

  • Suggest incompetence, bumbling, or ignorance – lighthearted music, caricatures


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f. Deception and Distortion control)

  • Issues/Votes: See http://www.factcheck.org/ for many examples

  • Media debunking often amplifies misconceptions by re-broadcasting original ad!

  • Common tactic in “opposition” territory: Play hide-the-party. Examples:

    • D: Jim Webb (2006) and Tom Periello (2008)

    • R: Mike Steele (2006): response

    • Compare: Lavar Christensen


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4. Standard Political Ad Formats control)

  • The Biography (documentary). Often the first ad of the campaign.

    Examples: Obama, Noriega (Texas)


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b. Talking Head Ads control)

  • Most common type of positive advertisement

  • Used by candidates to give “aura of leadership”

  • Usually focus on a particular issue (communicates competence and expertise)


C message ads l.jpg
c. Message Ads control)

  • Use images or metaphors to reinforce positive or negative messages

  • Rely on viewer to already hold a point of view – seek to increase its salience to the voter (need for memorable visuals)

  • Examples: Daisy, Toy Soldiers, Bear, Revolving Door, Wolves


D endorsement ads l.jpg
d. Endorsement Ads control)

  • Prerequisite: Endorser must be more popular/known than endorsee. Sometimes misleading (common after bitter primaries). Can lead to embarrassment.

  • Frequency decreasing: credibility transfers less than once thought.

  • Still heavily used in local races, where “I’m qualified” is the central message (focus on name recognition rather than issues).


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iv. Guilt by Association: The “unwanted endorsement” ad control)

  • Early examples: KKK and Goldwater 1964 (warning: racist language), Iran and Carter 1980

  • Increasingly common:

    • 1994 Clinton morphs

    • ”Hillary” in Republican Primary (2006)

    • Democrats tie opponents to Bush in 2008 (MN, Pres), Republicans do the same with Obama in solidly “Red” States


E man in the street ads l.jpg
e. “Man in the Street” Ads control)

  • Feature ordinary people – meant to represent key demographic groups

    • Look at who is not in the crowd

  • Examples: McGovern 1972, Carter 1980


F education ads l.jpg
f. Education Ads control)

  • Meant to transmit knowledge to viewers (usually negative information about opponent)

  • Emphasize credible evidence (newspaper headlines, personal testimony, video footage, official reports, etc.) to convince fence-sitters


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5. Targeting Ads: Match Voters to Issues control)

  • Local Issues: Emphasize “us vs. them” mentality. Examples: Tornadoes in Indiana, Trade Policy in Pennsylvania, a Sub Base in Connecticut

  • Language: Target linguistic minorities. Examples: Spanish, Cantonese

  • Prospective Voters: Evaluate candidates based upon expected future behavior. Target with hope/fear.

  • Retrospective voters: Reward/punish candidates based on past performance. Target with evidence of success/failure (no alternative necessary).


E issues and voter targeting l.jpg
e. Issues and Voter Targeting control)

  • Economy – Usually retrospective. Examples:

    • 1952: Eisenhower asks, Who Raised Prices?

    • 1984: The Train: Retrospective success

    • 1988: I Remember You: Republicans try to run against Carter again

    • 1992: How Ya Doin’? And Read My Lips

    • 2008: From Obama and McCain


Ii budget deficits usually retrospective l.jpg
ii. Budget Deficits: Usually Retrospective control)

  • 1984: Reagan Deficits

  • 2000: Gore’s Spending

  • 2004: Child’s Play

  • 2008: Earmarks (CO)


Iii long wars usually retrospective l.jpg
iii. Long Wars: Usually Retrospective control)

  • Examples

    • Republicans criticize Korea in 1952 (Eisenhower)

    • Republicans criticize Vietnam in 1964 (Goldwater) and 1968 (Nixon)

    • Democrats criticize Iraq in 2004 (Kerry), 2006 (Lamont), 2008 (Coleman)

  • Note that often criticism is of management of war (because requires no plan other than “do it better”)

  • Defenses: Iraq 2006, 2008 (generally ineffective – no evidence ads change opinion of war, so best defense is to claim to oppose war “as fought”)


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iv. Tragedy: Always Retrospective control)

  • 9/11: Ashley’s Story

  • JFK Assassination: Promises Kept


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v. Veep Worries: Always Prospective control)

Vs. Nixon 1956

Vs. Agnew 1968

Vs. Quayle 1988


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vi. Gaffes: Usually Prospective control)

1964: The Saw

1980: Reagan Likes Proliferation

2006: Laffey Hopes You Die and Burns Hates Firefighters

2008: McCain’s 100 Year War and Merkley Needs a Moment


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vii. Preparedness and Escalation (Usually Prospective) control)

  • 1968: Castro’s Bomb

  • 1988: Tank Ride and Response

  • 2002: Max Cleland Lacks Courage?

  • 2008: Immigration as Terrorism, Wiretapping for Security


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viii. Character and Scandal control)

  • 1964: Our Lack of Moral Values (Dems respond to slogan with “In Your Guts…”)

  • 1972: Watergate

  • 1982: Jerry Springer for Governor

  • 1992: Gray Dot

  • 1996: Unusually Good Liar

  • 2006: You Funded What?!?

  • 2008: It’s Not Just the Indictment…


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E. Get out the Vote (GOTV) control)

  • Most important in midterm elections and primaries

  • Still important in Presidential elections – Republican GOTV efforts probably won Ohio in 2004


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3. GOTV Strategies control)

  • RNC strategy (used since 2002): 72-hour program

    • Phone calls, polling data and personal visits identify would-be GOP voters and their top issues early in the cycle.

    • Information is then fed into a database, allowing party leaders to flood them with pro-Republican messages through e-mail, regular mail and local volunteers.

    • On Election Day, they receive a phone call or a visit to remind them to vote.

    • Post-election interviews with targets to evaluate performance

    • Key difference with earlier efforts = national database of likely Republican voters. Allows much better targeting and more efficient spending.


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b. Democratic Strategies control)

  • The DNC’s 50-State Strategy: Spread resources throughout entire country to rebuild party in Red states.

  • DCCC Plan: Target swing states by mobilizing single-issue groups and unions.

  • Democratic efforts generally less successful in 2004 and California special election in 2006. Little coordination or information-sharing between efforts.


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F. Primaries: Same tactics, different voting groups control)

Unique feature: Incentive to interfere in other party’s primary  cause disunion or simply support weaker candidate (must be secret)

Example: Muskie in 1972

Just before New Hampshire primary, conservative paper’s editorial accuses Democratic front-runner Muskie of using an ethnic slur against French-Americans, a large voting bloc in NH. Evidence = letter from a Florida man (actually a hoax planted by Nixon White House). Muskie reacts emotionally (tears or melted snow?), and is defeated by ultra-liberal McGovern.


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IV. Do Campaigns Matter? control)

  • Hillygus and Shields say yes – but…

    • Look at Figure 4.4 – linear trend is deceptive (increase in role of cross-pressures followed by decrease near end of campaign)

    • Surveys also misleading – how well do pre-election commitments reflect actual voting?

    • My conclusion – H&S are far better at explaining why campaigns adopt certain strategies than proving that these strategies substantially alter the outcome of the election. Size of effects is the key unknown.

  • Can we predict election outcomes without knowing anything about the campaigns? Need to try in order to establish maximum size of campaign effects.