The Unseen Power: Public Relations, a History

By Scott M. Cutlip | Go to book overview

Chapter 19
Whitaker & Baxter: Architects of the New Politics

The political propagandist/publicist has played a vital role in the nation's politics since the first party system was formed in the late 1790s. The second party system, born in the Jacksonian Revolution of the 1820s and 1830s, brought an enhanced role for the political propagandist and the first White House public relations adviser. The third party system, that was born of the divisive issue of slavery on the eve of the Civil War and dominated by the Republican and Democratic parties, has governed American political elections until recent times when the influence of the party in campaigns has been lessened by the emergence of the political campaign specialist, a burgeoning field of public relations practice.

Today's political campaign specialist or consultant, the more commonly used term, can be an independent consultant, for example, James Carville, who managed Senator Harris Wofford's upset victory in the 1991 Pennsylvania Senate race and went on in 1992 as consultant to President Bill Clinton's successful Presidential campaign; a public relations firm for example, Spencer and Roberts of California that managed all of President Reagan's campaigns; a standard public relations agency, for example, McDonald-Davis of Milwaukee; or an advertising agency, for example, Batten, Barton, Durstine, & Osborne, which directed the public relations and advertising strategy of President Eisenhower's 1952 campaign. These consultants or agencies who manage candidate or party campaigns employ an array of subspecialists: pollsters who measure the changing political climate, TV and video producers who prepare the all-important TV commercials, advertising agencies, and mailing firms with their computerized mailing lists to solicit political or financial support. This array of

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