The United States is the land of elections. We hold more elections, more frequently, than any other modern society. 1 Altogether there are approximately 513,200 popularly elected officials in the United States, and over a million elections are held in every four-year cycle. 2 The United States is also the land of political consultants. There are about seven thousand political consultants who play an increasingly important role in the conduct of national, state, and local elections. 3 Professional consultants are found in virtually every campaign for president, senator, representative, big-city mayor, and governor, and in many state legislative and other elected offices. Altogether, about fifty thousand campaigns a year are managed or assisted by professional political consultants.
American elections come in many shapes and sizes, from headline-grabbing, billion-dollar presidential campaigns to low-profile local contests in which voters are often unaware of the contest until they see the candidates on the election-day ballot.
Campaigns can be placed into one of several categories, based on the size of the electorate, the relative importance of the office being pursued, and the degree of involvement of professional campaign consultants.
Statewide Elections This category includes races for U.S. senator, governor, attorney general, lieutenant governor, and other statewide-elected officials. These elections generally attract considerable attention and are usually expensive, competitive, and issue-oriented. This is particularly true in statewide contests in the mega-states of California, Texas, New York, and Florida, with their multiple media markets, complex and varied political cultures, and heavy reliance on television advertising. In statewide contests,