Article title: What The Heck Are We Doing in Ottumwa, Anyway? Presidential Candidate Visits and Their Political Consequence
Special issue: Elections in America
From The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Despite their extensive national press coverage, campaign visits might not be worth presidential candidates’ time and resources. This study finds that voters are largely unaware of and unresponsive to campaign visits. The study was published as part of a special issue titled “Elections in America.”
“Of all the tools in a campaigns’ strategic arsenal, the campaign visit is distinguished by its unchanging nature,” wrote study author and campaign consultant Dr. Thomas Wood. “The observed pattern of visits within the swing states — where the most politically pivotal markets were not more frequently visited — suggests campaign consultants intend visits to affect the national media narrative rather than local coverage. Visits’ effects on voters themselves, however, are much more modest than consultants often claim.”
This article investigates the purpose and effects of presidential campaign visits. I recount common strategic rationales for rallies, town hall meetings, impromptu conversations, and the like, and then show how candidate visits are geographically assigned. I also investigate the impact of campaign visits, finding that while state-level political factors influence the location of visits, the visits themselves have little effect on local media markets. Finally, a bespoke survey is used to measure visits’ influence on visited and unvisited respondents in the closing stages of the 2012 presidential election: respondents are shown to have little knowledge about candidate visits, and the visits themselves have only a small and evanescent effect on voter intentions.
What The Heck Are We Doing in Ottumwa, Anyway? Presidential Candidate Visits and Their Political Consequence
The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science September 2016 667: 110-125, doi:10.1177/0002716216661488