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nexus between campaign and election results especially in relation to the developing mass media.
Political Campaign and Democratic Society
To truly understand the role of election campaigns towards the final result it is essential to understand that two views exist. On one hand it is argued that the voters decide for their candidate before campaigning commences while the others argue that it through this activity that the voters reach their decision.
An electoral campaign involves legally permitted actions which candidates and their respective parties undertake to arouse support during the period following up to the elections. Generally speaking the legal code of the country will provide a time limit during which campaigning is permitted. Additionally a financial bar is also set. This means that an upper limit is placed on the amount of money which the candidates and political parties can spend for this purpose.
Political campaigns are mainly intended to and do actually effect the voter in one of the three ways which are activate, reinforce and convert. It is also important to understand that a political campaign is not a single event but rather a series of events. Campaigns have a very dynamic nature and their character changes with the nature of individuals it is targeted at.
Activate represents those set of individuals who did not intend to vote but have decided against their previous view owing to the campaign. Thus they have been stimulated to vote. The reinforced group are those voters who had already been supporting the candidate and the campaign has rejuvenated their sprit. Lastly the converted voters are those who had been previously supporting a rival candidate but have been impressed by the campaign and have decided to join a new vote bank.
Many researches have been undertaken to examine how campaigns effect voters during democratic elections to bring the government into office. The researches undertaken initially on this issue were controlled in the sense that inadequate information was available. This meant that the research would be unable to offer a comprehensive answer to the question. The research undertaken by D. Sunshine Hillygus shows that the effect a campaign has is dependant on other factors also and that the campaign does impact the vote bank. Before giving a detailed analysis of these elements it is important the traditional view.
The traditional outlook supports the view point that the presence or absence of campaigns are irrelevant to the number of actual votes that are cast. According to the viewpoint voters are well informed and knowledgeable about the scenario as well as each candidate. This allows them to make a logical and lucid decision by comparing policies the particular candidate advocates and their own personal choices.
Then there is also the concept of attack journalism which includes from the political angle events like ex-U.S. President, Mr. Bill Clintons suspected marital disloyalty
Cavanaugh). Interviews were conducted from eighteen voters in Columbia, South Carolina about how they reacted to the media coverage given to such events and what impact if any it had on their opinions (Cavanaugh). The interviewees felt that the attacks had united voters in their opinion. Furthermore they concluded that no considerable effect was caused on who they selected to vote for. This decision they sensed was based on the speeches delivered on the issue of economic policies for the nation.
On the converse is the American Voter Tradition. They believe that different issues determine that size of a particular candidates and his parties vote bank. This characteristic of elections and voters has off late gained more prominence. One of the primary reasons is the role media has begun to play. From advertisements to political discussions to candidate interviews mass media has begun to offer the wider and well rounded view of politics.
Traditionally the impact of mass media was considered nominal and thus negligible by most scholars. Now social scientists have moved away from this approach and regard the matter differently. Commonness and popularity of different forms of mass media has bought international and national politics to every doorstep. Of mass media television and internet have taken the lead while radio although present is not a front runner.
With diversity being a feature of all three they are most likely to provide some piece of information which will impact the individuality and beliefs of the voter. This simple knowledge of public policy either adopting or crushing the voters preferences will make or break his support for a candidate. If a particular party on television informs that it intends to legislate on a sensitive issue then every individual close to the issue will become interested to vote.
Another angle mass media has introduced into elections is the mental game played with the voter. This would either be by introducing such issues which in the absence of the campaign would have been irrelevant to the voter or changing the approach the voter has towards the particular issue. Once this happened individuals will be forced to vote in support of the candidate who has run a better election campaign.
Considering the thinking of the American voters it is important to note the point-of-view put forward by political science researchers. Their results show that American voters maintain steady preferences from the beginning till the end of the election campaigns which conclude with elections for the president. The choice of candidate is made by the voters at a stage preliminary to the opening of the campaigns. This would mean that the consequences the campaigns can cause in the voters outlook and stance are limited.
Thus this selection of candidate is based on a number of factors which are principally unrelated to the campaign. They have a greater connection with the environment and society. These reasons chiefly include "partisan affiliations, demographic attributes, and assessments of the incumbent administration or political party."
Researches like Hillygus argue that the presence of insufficient data and limits in methodologies has prohibited research in this area from giving meaningful insight into when and the way campaigns cast an influence on the voting body. Furthermore research results are not summarizes of actual behavioural trends of voters but are rather representations of the manner in which the data has been collected for these researches.
This has however not deterred candidates to reduce campaigning efforts or funding. On the contrary both labour and expenditure towards the campaigning has grown. To look into this D. Sunshine Hillygus conducted a research for which The Knowledge Networks collected data. Their election dataset includes 29,000 respondents who were able to gather 102,000 responses from the American public in regard to the presidential election held in 2000. These responses were supported by information collected about their respective demographic, political, and attitudinal variables.
From the all the statistics, facts and figures it was concluded that choices made by voters are far more flexible than they had been previously considered to be. Moreover campaigns may not be solely liable for change in the stance of the voters but they are to some extent responsible. Additionally it must be realised that this is not just the story of those who are politically less bothered and inclined but also those who are extremely involved and engrossed.
The effect a particular political campaign element is able to cast also depends on what kind of individuals sits audience to it. Where the party has mostly conservative following anything too free-thinking being a part of the campaigns is likely to arouse negative vibes. Thus for the campaign to be able to meet any of its three purposes it must be designed in such a way that it stimulates those whom it is aimed at.
Hillygus says Gore supporters reacted differently to the debates than did Bush supporters and Independents. This is because supporters of both sides are very…[continue]
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