Modern day incumbent presidential campaigns are no longer dependent on the party organization. This emancipation has prompted presidents to rely instead on their personal staff and an independent campaign organization (e.g. Carter/Mondale '80, Bush/Quayle '92). Of the eight presidents under study, Eisenhower is the only president who allowed the national party to play a pivotal role in the reelection campaign. The declining role of the political party and the expanding role of the White House in the president's campaign have permanently altered the management of the incumbent's campaign. This chapter examines the evolution of the reelection campaign and, in the process, draws attention to significant electoral and institutional developments since 1956.
Beginning with President Eisenhower's reelection campaign is appropriate since campaigning for the presidency occurred in a very different context than it did for Presidents Nixon through Clinton. Historically, one might in fact make President Eisenhower the dividing point between the old method of campaign organization with the party organization at the helm, and the modern method with the White House