The role of political campaigns in state legislative elections
Hogan, Robert Edward
Hamm, Keith E.
Doctor of Philosophy
Campaigns are an important but under-studied component of legislative elections. How candidates allocate their financial and material resources during the course of a political campaign has implications not only for election outcomes but also for representation within legislative institutions. This analysis begins an exploration of state legislative campaigns by first examining their basic features--the organizational structure, reliance on professional consultants and party operatives for assistance, and the strategies and techniques used for contacting voters. Next, the analysis examines factors related to the candidate, financial capability, and district conditions that influence the type of campaign which is waged. Finally, the analysis considers the impact of campaign activity on the vote margins won by candidates. Information obtained from survey responses along with campaign finance data collected on candidates running in seven states in 1994 is used in the analysis (Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming). Results show that financial resources play prominently in affecting the type of campaign which is waged, but not always in ways we might expect. Candidates with higher levels of funding are likely to utilize more modern techniques, but they are also likely to have strong campaign organizations which make grass-roots contact possible. District conditions such as total population, population density, and media market congruence affect the choice of voter contact strategies. The results also indicate that some forms of electioneering have a greater influence than others. Overall, these findings lend support to the idea that the campaign process has implications for election outcomes as well as for representation in legislative institutions.