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Robin Kolodny and David A. Dulio, "Political Party Adaptation in US Congressional Campaigns: Why Political Parties Use Coordinated Expenditures to Hire Political Consultants," Party Politics, 9 (November 2003), 729-746.

First Paragraph:
In the past four decades, the literature on campaign practices in the American party system has focused on the increasing modernization of campaign techniques, as well as the implications of this modernization for the health of political parties in America. The general assumption has been that the more political campaigns turn to highly technical mechanisms for communicating with and mobilizing voters, the less traditional (and hence party-based) mechanisms for voter mobilization matter (Agranoff, 1972; Crotty, 1984; Kelley, 1956; Sorauf, 1967, 1980; White and Shea, 2000). In the past 20 years, a more direct assault has been waged in both academic and popular literature against political consultants in particular for having weakened the political parties beyond relevance (Blumenthal, 1982; Nimmo, 2001; Plasser, 2001; Sabato, 1981; Shea, 1996; Witcover, 2001). Here, political consultants are defined as individuals or firms paid to deliver specific (usually technical) services that are used in waging election campaigns.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Coordinated expenditures by party and chamber, 1998 and 2000
Table 2: Coordinated expenditures by purpose and consultant use, 1998 and 2000
Table 3: Timing of coordinated expenditures, 1998 and 2000
Table 4: Coordinated expenditures for US House and Senate campaigns by purpose and vendor type, 1998 and 2000

Last Paragraph:
The passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) will end soft money raising and spending that has occupied most of the parties' efforts in the 1998 and 2000 election cycles. However, we do not predict that the parties will return to in-house service provision in the 2004 cycle. Instead, we believe parties will rely on consultants even more because consultants are private business entities whose activities (especially regarding soft money raising and spending) are not subject to scrutiny by the Federal Election Commission. We can imagine a scenario where parties become employment brokers between consultants, state parties, interest groups and candidates. While on the surface the parties might 'look dead' after BCRA, we predict they will continue to adapt successfully as the party-centered theory of campaigning predicts.