The Change Election

The Change Election: Money, Mobilization, and Persuasion in the 2008 Federal Elections

Edited by David B. Magleby
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 318
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  • Book Info
    The Change Election
    Book Description:

    The 2008 election was an extraordinary event that represented change at many levels. The candidates' innovative campaigns changed how funds were raised, how voters were mobilized, and how messages were communicated through advertising and the internet. Parties and interest groups played their own important role in this historic election. InThe Change Election, David Magleby assembles a team of accomplished political scientists to provide an in-depth analysis of this groundbreaking presidential election. These scholars through a set of compelling case studies examine the competition for votes in a dozen competitive House and Senate contests and for the White House in five states: Ohio, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado, and New Mexico.

    Backed by a wealth of data, and extensive interviews, the contributors offer an up-close look at the interactions of candidates' individual skills and personalities with the larger political forces at work in the election year. The book offers insights into the rapidly evolving organizational and technical aspects of campaigning. The dramatic success Obama and other candidates had in raising money-especially from small donors-is addressed along with how money was raised and spent by the candidates, party committees, and interest groups competing for votes.

    Building on a tested methodology,The Change Electionexplores the interplay of money and electioneering. Magleby builds on more than a decade of prior studies to show the ways participants in our electoral process have adapted to statutory and judicial decisions and how the 2008 election has the potential to transform American electoral politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0340-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. 1 A Change Election
    (pp. 1-26)
    David B. Magleby

    Change was the major theme of the 2008 election. The pool of serious presidential candidates in 2008 itself marked a change, with a woman, an African American, a Mormon, and a septuagenarian all serious contenders. The absence of a sitting or former president or vice president seeking the office was a change from the past thirteen elections. A major theme of this book is the change in the way the election was financed, including a surge in individual contributions to the candidates and political parties, the importance of the internet in fundraising, and the demise of the presidential public financing...

  6. 2 How the 2008 Elections Were Financed
    (pp. 27-51)
    David B. Magleby

    Running for federal office is expensive. For example, in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race, the two major party candidates raised a combined $46,175,432, with only a little more than $1 million separating Republican incumbent Norm Coleman, who raised $23,673,308, from Democratic challenger Al Franken, who raised $22,502,124.¹ Other U.S. Senate contests in 2008 in which substantial amounts were raised by candidates include Kentucky and Georgia as well as the contests in North Carolina, Colorado, New Hampshire, and New Mexico, which are the subjects of case studies in this book. In the 2008 presidential election, a total of $1.8 billion was...

  7. 3 Elections as Team Sports: Spending by Candidates, Political Parties, and Interest Groups in the 2008 Election Cycle
    (pp. 52-86)
    David B. Magleby

    Every four years, as the American public and media spend months preparing for and voting in a presidential election, it can be difficult to see American politics as a team sport. As the election nears, candidates are consistently at the center of nearly every story. Yet, such a view of American elections is akin to watching a basketball game and seeing only Michael Jordan. As with many sports, although electoral politics in the United States is often greatly influenced by a single personality, it is ultimately a team activity that involves several players and participants.

    This chapter examines the spending...

  8. 4 Voter Mobilization in the 2008 Presidential Election
    (pp. 87-107)
    Michael P. McDonald and Thomas F. Schaller

    Pundits and academics such as Thomas Patterson, Robert Putnam, and Ruy Teixeira have decried apathy among American citizens in recent decades.¹ Yet, civic participation is now rising. The turnout rate among those eligible to vote in the 2008 presidential election was 61.7 percent, an increase of 1.6 percentage points from 2004, and was the third consecutive increase in presidential turnout rates since the 1996 modern low of 51.7 percent. The 2008 turnout rate is comparable to the “high” turnout rates experienced in the 1950s and 1960s, which serve as comparison for those who lament a disintegration of civic engagement.


  9. 5 The Conditional Party Teams of the 2008 North Carolina Federal Elections
    (pp. 108-139)
    Eric S. Heberlig, Peter L. Francia and Steven H. Greene

    Among the tidal wave of victories for Democrats during the 2008 election, three of the party’s most significant wins came, somewhat surprisingly, in North Carolina. In the battle for the presidency, Democrat Barack Obama defeated republican John Mccain by just over 13,000 votes, 49.9 percent to 49.5 percent. Obama’s victory reversed more than a quarter century of success for republicans in the Tar Heel State, dating back to Ronald Reagan’s victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980. Congressional races brought their share of upsets and national attention as well, in part because of the unusual team effort between the Democratic presidential...

  10. 6 Shifting Granite: New Hampshire’s Change from Largely Republican to Largely Democratic over Two Election Cycles
    (pp. 140-171)
    Dante J. Scala

    Thanks to its first-in-the-nation presidential primary, New Hampshire is said to be a place where people never stop talking politics. However, Granite state voters’ attention spans were put to the test in the 2008 electoral cycle. The 2008 campaign began almost immediately after the 2006 midterms concluded, with Illinois senator Barack Obama making a star turn with his visit at the end of the calendar year. Even apart from presidential politics, though, the 2008 elections promised high-intensity matchups, including the possibility of not one, but two rematches. Former governor Jeanne Shaheen plotted to wrest a U.S. Senate seat from John...

  11. 7 The Battle for Ohio in 2008: The Politics of Pragmatism
    (pp. 172-211)
    Daniel Coffey, David B. Cohen, John C. Green, Diana Kingsbury, Monica C. Schneider, Barry L. Tadlock and Dustin Carnahan

    In 2008 Ohio was once again a key battleground state in the presidential election, with Democrat Barack Obama securing Ohio’s twenty electoral votes by a slim majority of the popular vote. Although the Buckeye state did not play the same pivotal role as in the 2004 election,¹ it was central to the campaign strategies of both the Obama and McCain campaigns. As in the 2006 midterm elections,² Ohio contributed to the Democratic gains in Congress, with the party picking up a net gain of three House seats.

    Ohio is a perennial battleground state because of its demographic diversity and close...

  12. 8 Colorado: Democrats Expand Their Base and Win Unaffiliated Voters
    (pp. 212-247)
    Robert J. Duffy, Kyle L. Saunders and Joshua Dunn

    Political forecasters were only half right about Colorado in 2008. As predicted, the presidential, U.S. Senate, and Fourth Congressional District races attracted considerable money and attention from the candidates, political parties, interest groups, and media. However, predictions that the races would be closely decided were wrong, as the Democratic candidates won all three races by surprising margins. Barack Obama defeated John McCain 54 percent to 45 percent, doubling George W. Bush’s margin of victory over John Kerry just four years earlier. Mark Udall defeated former congressman Bob Schaffer 53 percent to 43 percent in an open-seat race to succeed retiring...

  13. 9 Moving from Red to Blue: The 2008 New Mexico Presidential, Senate, and First Congressional District Races
    (pp. 248-281)
    Michael S. Rocca, Lonna Rae Atkeson, Yann Kerevel and Lisa A. Bryant

    As one of only a handful of battleground states in the 2008 presidential election, New Mexico naturally saw presidential politics take center stage. Nevertheless, the state’s electoral season effectively began on October 4, 2007, when six-term senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) announced his retirement after thirty-six years in the United States Senate. The retirement of “Saint Pete” initiated an earthquake in New Mexico politics. All three of the state’s sitting U.S. House members ran for senator Domenici’s seat, opening not only their congressional seats to new blood, but also the seats of the local and state officials looking to move...

  14. 10 Continuity and Change in the 2008 Federal Elections
    (pp. 282-296)
    David B. Magleby

    The 2008 election was the second presidential election conducted after the Bipartisan Campaign reform Act (BCRA) of 2002 took effect. BCRA changed the financing of federal elections in some important ways. First, it increased individual contribution limits and indexed those limits to inflation. Within an individual’s total contribution limit in a two-year election cycle there is also an aggregate limit for contributions to candidates. The difference between those two limits has given political parties an area that they can exploit among “max-out” donors. To date, the Democrats have done a better job exploiting this change. An intended aim of BCRA...

  15. APPENDIX A: List of Studies
    (pp. 297-298)
  16. APPENDIX B: List of Interviews
    (pp. 299-304)
  17. Contributors
    (pp. 305-306)
  18. Index
    (pp. 307-318)