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Paul A Beck and Erik D Heidemann, "Changing strategies in grassroots canvassing: 1956?2012," Party Politics, 20 (March 2014), 261-274. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
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 Tables:
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, 1956-2012.
Table 1. Probability of contact by a major party, 1956-2012
Figure 4. Discrete change in the probability of major party contact, 1956-2012.
Table 2. Probability of contact by Democratic Party, 1956-2012.
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.

Last Paragraph:
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.

Last updated March 2014