Do Political Campaigns Matter? Campaign Effects in Elections and Referendums

By David M. Farrell; Rudiger Schmitt-Beck | Go to book overview

Series editor's preface

In his seminal work on public opinion and democracy Walter Lippmann observed already in 1921 that 'the art of inducing all sorts of people who think differently to vote alike is practiced in every political campaign'. The development of mass participation and mass media in representative democracies in the last decades has underlined the importance of campaigning. Modern political campaign strategies increasingly rely on the use (and manipulation) of media presentations of candidates and their personal characteristics and background. Television, cable, telephone banks, the internet, direct mailing enterprises and other new technologies make it possible to reach quite literally 'all kinds of people' and sophisticated campaign tactics and techniques take full advantage of the opportunities to 'induce' citizens 'to vote alike' in the way Lippmann meant.

Despite the fact that the development of political campaigning in representative democracies is hard to overlook, campaigning has not drawn major attention from the scholarly community. The traditional division of labour in political science and an evident US bias in studying campaign effects certainly explain much of this astonishing situation. As the editors of this volume indicate in their introductory chapter, campaign effects are 'located at the interface of various sub-disciplines' and a multi-disciplinary approach is required to do the subject justice. The development of political campaigning and campaign effects, then, cannot be understood within the conventional conceptual borders of electoral studies, party sociology or communication research, or by relying on American experience only. What is needed is, first of all, a rethinking of concepts like communication and effects, allowing much more analytical depth and detail than is usually provided in disciplinary approaches. Second, the scope of research should be broadened considerably not only to cover US campaigning and campaign effects, but to deal also with developments and specific circumstances from comparative and longitudinal perspectives.

The contributors to the volume differ in their research interests, study designs and selected material, and in the scope of the analyses presented, but they all cope with the impact of political campaigning in representative democracies from a broad perspective. Before these specific analyses are

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