Making Campaigns Count: Leadership and Coalition-Building in 1980

By Darrell M. West | Go to book overview

something very vague."45 Yet because of their positions, many professionals have pet theories about "what really decides elections." For Doug Bailey, Baker's media advisor, the key factor is personal trust:

the major reasons why people vote the way they did, either way in 1976 and it would be equally true in 1980, it was a question of personal trust between the voter and their candidate. I don't mean trust just in an integrity sense, but a willingness to trust that person with the safety of the country, with the safety of the family, with the safety of the economy, and making decisions on a whole bunch of complicated issues that the voters are interested in but don't really understand and know they don't understand.

Meanwhile, Bush media advisor Robert Goodman suggested a less cerebral approach: "Voting is emotional. People vote feelings rather than fact. . . . Television is a feeling medium . . . and voting decisions are based more on perceptions and style than substance. . . . In most elections, the issue isn't foreign policy or inflation. The issue is really the human being."46 In contrast, Sam Hoskinson, Connally's research director, emphasized the role of policy issues:

the voters are probably tired of hearing pious promises of good will and of "I'll try harder" kind of rhetoric from candidates. You know they had that. That's in some respect the lesson that people have learned about Jimmy Carter. There is a realization in the country that the 1980s are going to be a difficult decade, a different kind of decade. People are looking for men who have ideas. So I think probably there's a much greater scope for candidates to be idea candidates or issue candidates and this fits well with Connally because this is what he wants to be.47

While this list could go on, the important point is that these assumptions about voting influenced strategies of coalition-building (even though some of the assumptions were questionable). Bailey's television ads for Baker tried to convey trustworthiness. Goodman's views about "style" and "feelings" were reflected in Bush's early media advertising, much of which was not oriented to policy matters. And Connally's controversial speech on Mideast policy (which Hoskinson helped prepare) assumed that voters would respond favorably to a detailed statement on a major foreign policy issue.48 Therefore, the study of coalition formation must incorporate information about the beliefs and behavior of campaigners.

In the next chapter, I explore coalition-building in the new electoral system. What influenced coalitional strategies? How did the new campaign environment affect these efforts? And what do these things tell observers about the prospects for realignment in the contemporary period?


NOTES
1.
See William Crotty, Political Reform and the American Experiment ( New York: Thomas Crowell, 1977); Stephen Wayne, The Road to the White House ( New York: St.

-34-

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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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