The Last Hurrah?

The Last Hurrah?: Soft Money and Issue Advocacy in the 2002 Congressional Elections

David B. Magleby
J. Quin Monson
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Last Hurrah?
    Book Description:

    The 2002 midterm elections were noteworthy U.S. congressional campaigns for many reasons. They marked the last national contests before implementation of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) and thus were expected by many to be the "last hurrah" for soft money. These midterm campaigns provided a window on the activity of parties, interest groups, and political consultants on the eve of BCRA, as they prepared to enter a new era of American elections. The results of Campaign 2002 were remarkable. As the party in power, the Republicans defied history by gaining seats in both houses of Congress, giving them a majority in the Senate. To some degree this resulted from the GOP's new emphasis on "ground war" voter mobilization. Another key was the unusually aggressive support of the sitting president, who leveraged his popularity to advance his party's candidates for Congress. The Last Hurrah? analyzes the role of soft money and issue advocacy in the 2002 battle for Congress. Having been granted access to a number of campaign operations across a broad array of groups, David Magleby, Quin Monson, and their colleagues monitored and documented a number of competitive races, including the key South Dakota and Missouri Senate contests. Each case study breaks down the campaign communication in a particular race, including devices such as advertising, get-out-the-vote drives, "soft money" expenditures, and the increasingly influential role of the national parties on local races. They also discuss the overall trends of the midterm election of 2002, paying particular attention to the impact of President Bush and his political operation in candidate recruitment, fundraising, and campaign visits. Magleby and Monson consider an important question typically overlooked. How do voters caught in the middle of a hotly contested race deal with -and react to -a barrage of television and radio ads, direct mail, unsolicited phone calls, and other campaign communications? They conclude with a look to the future, using the trends in 2002 to understand just how candidates, political parties, and interest groups might respond to the new campaign environment of BCRA.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-9640-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. VII-xiv)
  4. ONE The Importance of Outside Money in the 2002 Congressional Elections
    (pp. 1-35)

    The relative role of candidates, parties, and interest groups in competitive congressional elections has undergone a dramatic transformation since 1996. Before 1996, and in noncompetitive races since, candidates were the primary loci of activity in raising and spending campaign money.¹ The vast majority of congressional contests are not competitive, but those few competitive races have become battlegrounds for control of Congress. The close party balance at all levels of government and in the electorate has also amplified the importance of competitive elections.

    We began monitoring competitive races in 1998, in response to the dramatic transformation of individual donors, political parties,...

  5. TWO Party Money in the 2002 Congressional Elections
    (pp. 36-62)

    On march 27, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). BCRA is comprehensive: It raises individual contribution limits, redefines issue advocacy, mandates greater disclosure, and bans soft money. But BCRA’s centerpiece is the abolition of party soft money after the 2002 election cycle, with the sole exception of limited contributions to state and local party committees for voter registration and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) activities.¹ The political parties stressed to soft-money donors that 2002 would be the last year soft money was legal, providing donors with additional incentive to make generous contributions. The parties also emphasized the...

  6. THREE Interest-Group Electioneering in the 2002 Congressional Elections
    (pp. 63-89)

    The united states has a wide array of interest groups, many of which seek to influence the outcome of congressional elections. Our representative democracy lends itself, by its very nature, to being influenced by factions of its citizens. Citizens form groups to influence government policies on ideological and economic issues about which they feel passionate. The need of candidates to fund their election campaigns provides groups with an opportunity to not only influence who holds office but to curry favor with them on policy issues as well. This mutual benefit provides the opportunity for quid pro quo corruption cited by...

  7. FOUR Get On TeleVision vs. Get On The Van: GOTV and the Ground War in 2002
    (pp. 90-116)

    Ground-war efforts played a critical role in competitive contests in the 2002 election. The ground war refers to nonbroadcast campaign communications, such as telephone calls, direct mail, and person-to-person contacts, which are often designed to increase voter turnout. Other elements of the ground war include voter registration and early and absentee voting. While it is often used synonymously with fieldwork or get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operations, as used here the ground war includes any nonbroadcast campaign activity, regardless of its primary purpose.¹

    The ground war, in contrast to the air war, concerns campaign communications that are below the radar screen.² That is,...

  8. FIVE From Intensity to Tragedy: The Minnesota U.S. Senate Race
    (pp. 117-136)

    The tragic death of Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) eleven days before the 2002 election created shock waves throughout Minnesota. On Friday, October 25, Senator Wellstone was killed in a plane crash in northern Minnesota. A moratorium on campaigning immediately went into effect in all election races, lasting for five days, until after the public memorial service on Tuesday night. This service, held in a sports arena on the University of Minnesota campus and attracting a crowd of 20,000, was televised for over three hours on all the major network affiliates in the state. It reflected both the anguish of the...

  9. SIX Battle for the Bases: The Missouri U.S. Senate Race
    (pp. 137-158)

    The 2002 u.s. senate race in Missouri lasted twenty-four and a half months, beginning with the tragic death of Democratic Governor Mel Carnahan on October 16, 2000, and ending with Jim Talent’s Republican victory on November 5, 2002. Because this seat could have changed partisan control of the Senate, the race drew national attention and big money. Even under circumstances such as the 2000 election, winning elections in Missouri is about mobilizing base voters for each side, since elections are often competitive and the parties are fairly evenly divided, but the 2002 race also became a battle to demobilize or...

  10. SEVEN The More You Spend, the Less They Listen: The South Dakota U.S. Senate Race
    (pp. 159-179)

    With control of the senate at stake, South Dakota became a key battleground state in the 2002 race. President Bush saw an opportunity to not only gain a seat but to deliver a political blow to the Democrats in Majority Leader Tom Daschle’s own state. The president persuaded popular Republican Representative John Thune to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Tim Johnson. From the beginning of the campaign, this election was characterized as a proxy battle between Bush and Daschle. Both parties transferred a significant amount of money to the state, and the president made five campaign visits.

    On a night when...

  11. EIGHT Strings Attached: Outside Money in Colorado’s Seventh District
    (pp. 180-204)

    In every general election political pundits select a handful of “toss-up” congressional races they deem too close to call.¹ In 2002 Colorado’s newly carved Seventh Congressional District lived up to its competitive billing.² Despite being outpolled on Election Day by 2,502 votes, Republican Bob Beauprez ultimately won the district by 121 votes over Democrat Mike Feeley.³ Unlike other closely fought congressional races, interest groups stayed above the fray, focusing their collective energy on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race. Instead, most of the heavy hitting in Colorado’s Seventh was carried out by Republican and Democratic national congressional campaign committees. The expenditures made...

  12. NINE Incumbent vs. Incumbent in Connecticut’s Fifth District
    (pp. 205-224)

    Two incumbents fought for their political lives in the 2002 House race in Connecticut’s newly redrawn Fifth District, spending more than any other congressional race in state history. The state had lost one seat in the House because of slow population growth, and after intense negotiations, the bipartisan Reapportionment Committee merged the Fifth District, held by Democrat James Maloney, and the Sixth District, held by Republican Nancy Johnson. Both sides generally agreed that the process that created the new Fifth District resulted in a “fair fight.”¹ The Johnson campaign knew that the redrawing of District Five “had to be,” and...

  13. TEN When Incumbents Clash, Fundamentals Matter: Pennsylvania Seventeen
    (pp. 225-240)

    In 2002 pennsylvania’s Seventeenth Congressional District was one of four races nationally in which two incumbents faced off as the result of redistricting.¹ This race should have been relatively safe for the Republicans. Instead it was the most competitive of the member-versus-member House races, at 51 percent to 49 percent, and the only one in which a Democrat won. Spending by both parties and at least half a dozen interest groups, in addition to candidate spending, made this race one of the three most expensive races in the country—in a district that does not contain a large media market!²...

  14. ELEVEN When Redistricting Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry: Utah’s Second District
    (pp. 241-257)

    The story of the 2002 race in Utah’s Second Congressional District reads like a mystery thriller, complete with plot twists and a surprise ending. Going into the 2002 election cycle, most of the national punditry, including theCook Political ReportandCampaigns and Elections, identified the Second District as a race to watch.¹ With control of the House of Representatives up for grabs, it appeared that the parties and interest groups would vigorously contest this race.² Pundits were right about the competitiveness but wrong about the intensity. First-term incumbent Jim Matheson barely won reelection; however, the race exhibited few characteristics...

  15. TWELVE The Consequences of Noncandidate Spending, with a Look to the Future
    (pp. 258-280)

    Outside money has changed the dynamics of campaigns and elections in competitive congressional elections. Unlike most candidate-centered congressional elections, much of the campaigning in a competitive race falls outside the control of the candidate. Political parties and interest groups do not all share the same agenda, and some have resources well beyond those of the candidates. Instead of seeing an election as a race between two major party candidates, we now need to consider the campaigns mounted by the party committees and interest groups as part of the overall campaign. In an extremely competitive South Dakota Senate race, nearly forty...

  16. APPENDIX A Studying the Noncandidate Campaign:
    (pp. 281-298)
  17. APPENDIX B Interviews Conducted by CSED Researchers
    (pp. 299-302)
  18. Contributors
    (pp. 303-304)
  19. Index
    (pp. 305-320)