Campaign Professionals in American Democracy Project

Every two years, when national elections come around, Americans are inundated with campaigns’ communications: they see political advertisements on television and online, hear speeches and more ads on the radio, get countless flyers in the mail, receive robo-calls and live calls, and may even find a canvasser knocking on their doors. 

Political campaigns are a key way people are connected to politics; they are the moments in a democracy when politicians and their parties have the most incentive to communicate directly with potential voters, and when voters must make a decision about whom to support. I believe that campaigns' influence goes beyond how people vote; campaigns also create a large part of the political culture through which individuals come to understand democratic politics. 

It is essential, then, to understand how national-level campaigns make decisions about the strategies and tactics they will use. The people who know the most about this are those who have made their careers working in political campaigns -- professional campaign staff and political consultants.  

This project is an extension of my PhD dissertation, which was completed in the Department of Sociology at UC Berkeley in May 2013. I have talked to 67 people in the politics industry so far, and will be conducting a few additional interviews in 2020 for a book due out with Beacon Press in 2022. The Swarthmore College Institutional Review Board has approved the project.