Making Campaigns Count: Leadership and Coalition-Building in 1980

By Darrell M. West | Go to book overview

2
The Changing Nature of Presidential Campaigns

Presidential campaigns have changed dramatically during the past two decades. At the institutional level, primaries have proliferated, the media have gained influence, party organizations have lost control over key resources, and procedural changes have "opened up" the process for more broadly based participation.1 These changes have been accompanied by increases in the "independence" of voters, a decline in voter turnout, and growth of public mistrust and cynicism.2 The campaign audience also has fragmented into a bewildering variety of interest groups, political action committees, and "single-issue" lobbies.3 And to accentuate their dilemmas, presidential contenders must operate within such a complex system with its long campaigns, numerous participants, and confusing rules that campaigns often appear to be more of an endurance contest than a meaningful race for the presidency. So profound have these developments been that we now see titles such as The New American Political System and Parties and Elections in an Anti-Party Age and find arguments of fundamental shifts in the presidential selection process.4

Although writers give these trends considerable attention, they have not devoted much time to the impact of these changes on campaigners. This chapter explores the effects of recent changes in presidential campaigns on candidates and their advisors. What are their views of the contemporary campaign environment? How do they see their political opportunities and risks? To answer these questions, I compared the "old" and "new" electoral systems and found that campaigners were very aware of the rules of the game as well as the over- all campaign environment. These institutional settings influenced their strategic calculations and therefore demonstrate the importance of candidate perceptions in presidential campaigns.


THE "OLD" ELECTORAL SYSTEM

From the time of Franklin Roosevelt to John Kennedy ( 1930s to the early 1960s), presidential campaigns were marked by four qualities: uneventful nom-

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Making Campaigns Count: Leadership and Coalition-Building in 1980
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments iv
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1- Introduction 3
  • Notes 12
  • 2- The Changing Nature of Presidential Campaigns 15
  • Notes 34
  • 3- Candidates and Electoral Coalitions 39
  • Notes 62
  • 4campaign Rhetoric and the Political Agenda 69
  • Notes 92
  • 5- Constituencies and the Allocation Of Travel Time 97
  • Notes 114
  • 6- The Role of Political Symbolism 117
  • Notes 131
  • 7- Candidate Presentations and Audience Reactions 133
  • Notes 148
  • 8- Campaigns and Governance: Predicting Presidential Behavior 151
  • Notes 161
  • Appendixes 163
  • Notes 174
  • Bibliographical Essay 189
  • Index 193
  • About the Author 199
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