Paul A Beck and Erik D
Heidemann, "Changing strategies in grassroots canvassing:
1956?2012," Party Politics, 20 (March 2014), 261-274.
[Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol20/issue2/
The headline is simple: In recent presidential elections,
the major parties have become much more active in contacting
voters at the grassroots on behalf of their candidates.
Campaign strategists, pundits and scholars alike have
recognized this new attention to the so-called 'ground war'.
Less widely recognized is the story behind the headlines:
The upsurge in party contacting is the product of the
nationalization of presidential campaigns and its resulting
rationalization of grassroots strategies.
- Figures and
- Figure 1. Major party contacting, 1956-2012.
- Figure 2. Party contacting by local party
organizational capacity, 1956-2012.
- Figure 3. Party contacting by state competitiveness,
- Table 1. Probability of contact by a major party,
- Figure 4. Discrete change in the probability of major
party contact, 1956-2012.
- Table 2. Probability of contact by Democratic Party,
- Table 3. Probability of contact by Republican Party,
1956-2012. 1956 1960 1964
- Figure 5. Change in probability of contact by
democrats and republicans, 1956-2012.
- Appendix A Measures.
Whatever its implications for democratic practice, the main
headline of our story is that party canvassing in
presidential elections reached a crescendo in the 2000s that
is unprecedented in 60 years of national polling. And the
story behind the headline is that this is the product of
national campaign calculations that leave visible traces of
an emphasis on competitive states and on mobilizing the most
likely voters. Party canvassing in contemporary campaigns,
in short, is much changed from what it was in the past, with
uncertain consequences for American politics.