The Battle for Congress

The Battle for Congress: Consultants, Candidates, and Voters

James A. Thurber Editor
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    The Battle for Congress
    Book Description:

    This volume provides an in-depth examination of six political campaigns waged during competitive 1998 races for the U.S. House of Representatives. The case studies evaluate the professional political consultants who managed each campaign, their interaction with the candidates, and the impact of the campaigns on voters. Relying on unparalleled access to both the consultants involved and the candidates themselves, the contributors explore the electoral setting and context of the congressional districts, the strategy, theme, and message of each campaign, the consultants' decisionmaking, fund-raising, and spending, and any outside forces that entered into the races. The book features new data on tracking, polls, and television advertising budgets.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-9898-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    CAMPAIGNS AND ELECTIONS are central to our democracy. These battles are often the single most important event in American democratic life, as they tie citizens to their government and offer Americans an opportunity to give their consent to be governed. Congressional election campaigns also provide a mechanism by which Americans can choose and hold members of Congress accountable for their past performance. In a representative democracy, these campaigns become a mechanism by which the people choose who makes public policy and sets the congressional policy agenda. Elections are a primary way to keep members of Congress responsive to, and aware...

  5. CHAPTER TWO One Year and Four Elections: The 1998 Capps Campaign for California’s Twenty-Second District
    (pp. 9-44)

    CAMPAIGNS ARE DYNAMIC and fluid endeavors. The choices that campaign managers and candidates make during this process are in general not well understood by academics, journalists, and the public at large. A poor research design for studying the strategy and tactics taken in the midst of a campaign would be to look at final, aggregate statistics such as polls, final vote counts, and Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings without examining the intermediate qualitative factors that drive these numbers. This book takes a different approach to increasing our knowledge about campaign conduct: a chronological case study that describes theprocessof...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Johnson versus Koskoff: The 1998 Campaign for Connecticut’s Sixth District
    (pp. 45-80)

    THIS CHAPTER TELLS the story of the 1998 reelection campaign of an eight-term moderate Republican incumbent, Nancy Johnson, of Connecticut’s Sixth Congressional District. Before the preceding election, Johnson had appeared invulnerable, but a shockingly narrow victory in 1996 suggested that she was less secure than she and her supporters believed. Her near-defeat in 1996 and reaction to it in the 1998 campaign provide insight into the role of campaign consultants in determining the conduct of modern campaigns. Johnson’s case is particularly interesting because of her long-standing reputation as a popular, secure incumbent, naturally inclined toward genteel, positive campaigns. Although she...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR High Turnout in a Low-Turnout Year: Georgia’s Second District
    (pp. 81-122)

    ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, like the interstate highway, has largely bypassed Georgia’s Second Congressional District. The Second is tucked into the state’s southwestern corner with Tallahassee and its always competitive Florida State University football team to the south and the statue to the boll weevil to its west in Enterprise, Alabama. Ties to both states are close. Tallahassee and Thomasville, Georgia, share one of the district’s major televisions stations. Some students along the district’s border cross the Chattahoochee River to attend private school in George Wallace’s Barbour County. The district’s most famous native son, Jimmy Carter, promised that if elected governor he...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Kansas’s Third District: The “Pros from Dover” Set Up Shop
    (pp. 123-159)

    AUGUST 28, 1998. It’s just 10:30 on this late August morning, but the air conditioning is already running full blast in the strip-mall office “suite” that houses the campaign of Democrat Dennis Moore. Inside, the press secretary, Mark Nevins, is returning some phone calls and waiting for the candidate to appear—after all, a major debate with Republican incumbent Vince Snowbarger is scheduled for noon a few miles away at the Overland Park (Kansas) Marriott. Sitting across the room from Nevins is Moore’s worried campaign manager, Chris Esposito, whose extensive debate preparation with the candidate may go for naught. Moore,...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Brian Baird’s “Ring of Fire”: The Quest for Funds and Votes in Washington’s Third District
    (pp. 160-198)

    MOST ELECTORAL BATTLES for a congressional seat involve two primary campaigns; one for money and one for votes. This was certainly the case in 1998’s highly competitive, open seat for Washington’s Third Congressional District.¹ This case study uses this congressional race to examine whether a symbiotic relationship exists between political consultants and a candidate in the development of a winning campaign strategy, theme, and message. Additionally, we explore the role of money in the pursuit of votes and address how campaign conduct influences broader questions of representative democracy.

    Our analysis examines the world of congressional campaigning using in-depth interviews and...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN Wisconsin’s Second District: History in the Making
    (pp. 199-238)

    THE SUBTITLE TO THIS chapter may sound a bit melodramatic, but voters in the Second Congressional District of Wisconsin truly participated in making history. It is not very often that voters have a hand in producing two historical firsts: Tammy Baldwin was the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in Wisconsin’s history and the first openly gay candidate in the nation to win a House campaign as a nonincumbent (and the first openly gay woman in Congress).

    In many regards this campaign was worthy of its historical stature. Baldwin and Republican opponent Josephine Musser held twenty-eight joint...

  11. APPENDIX Case Study Framework and Methodology
    (pp. 239-246)
  12. Contributors
    (pp. 247-248)
  13. Index
    (pp. 249-260)