Making Campaigns Count: Leadership and Coalition-Building in 1980

By Darrell M. West | Go to book overview

5
Constituencies and the Allocation of Travel Time

Perhaps no feature of presidential selection personifies the modern era more than the extensive campaigning that accompanies office-seeking. Traditionally (in the 1800s), presidential contenders followed George Washington's "aloof candidacy" and did not publicly campaign. Rather, like William McKinley, who campaigned in 1896 from his front porch, they stayed home and left the "stumping" to surrogate speakers and party organizers.1 Occasionally, there were exceptions to this pattern. As the Democratic nominee in 1860, Stephen Douglas conducted an extensive personal campaign. Similarly, in 1896, William Jennings Bryan traveled 18,000 miles on whistle-stop tours. But since presidential selection was an "elite game" with limited public participation in the nominating process and significant control by party regulars, these efforts at active personal campaigning were rare.

However, in the new electoral system, lengthy campaigning is the rule. With the exception of Rose Garden strategies by incumbents, candidates spend months and sometimes years on the campaign trail. In the 1980 contest, Crane announced his presidential intentions (the traditional kickoff for active campaigning) in August, 1978, more than two years before the general election. And in 1979 alone, Bush logged 246,174 miles, considerably above Bryan's total in 1896.2 Because candidates spend so much time campaigning, it is important to understand what they hope to accomplish with their campaign visits. Fenno argues that campaigning by House members is crucial to the relation between leaders and the public. Not only do candidates learn what is on the minds of voters, but campaigns also require that leaders allocate their time among various constituencies. Since campaigns shape leaders' perceptions of constituency, they have an important impact on public policy. Given these findings, one might expect similar processes among presidential candidates. In this chapter, I investigate one component of campaign visits: how presidential contenders allocated their travel time among particular audiences. Specifically, what did their travel allocations reveal about the electoral coalitions they wanted to put together? Did Republicans and Democrats emphasize different constituencies? Did

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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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