The 2000 Presidential Campaign: A Communication Perspective

The 2000 Presidential Campaign: A Communication Perspective

The 2000 Presidential Campaign: A Communication Perspective

The 2000 Presidential Campaign: A Communication Perspective

Synopsis

Denton and his colleagues analyze the presidential campaign with a special focus on key topics and elements of political communication. Their analyses go beyond the quantitative facts, electoral counts, and poll results, inspecting the nuts and bolts of what became one of the most controversial elections in American history.

Excerpt

Every four years a gong goes off and a new Presidential campaign surges into the national consciousness: new candidates, new issues, a new season of surprises. But underlying the syncopations of change is a steady, recurrent rhythm from election to election, a pulse of politics, that brings up the same basic themes in order, over and over again.

—James David Barber (1980, 3)

Every presidential campaign is unique and historic. However, the 2000 presidential contest is historic in many ways. Never before in American history have all three of the national elections for president, House, and Senate ended up virtually dead even. There was the virtual tie in the presidential race, even parity in House votes (49 percent for each party), and near-tie in votes in Senate races (Republican advantage 50 percent to 48 percent).

George Bush won the presidency with 47.9 percent of the popular vote, representing just 24.5 percent of the electorate. He is the first president since 1888 to lose the popular vote. In addition, Al Gore wins more popular votes than any presidential candidate except for Ronald Reagan. The campaign was more of a roller-coaster ride than a marathon. There were constant rises and dips for each candidate. A significant number of independent voters changed their minds several times during the general campaign. Much of the support for both candidates was “soft” right up until election day. However, the most volatile of all the voters were

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