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Battleground States versus Blackout States: The Behavioral Implications of Modern Presidential Campaigns

James G. Gimpel, Karen M. Kaufmann and Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 69, No. 3 (Aug., 2007), pp. 786-797
DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2508.2007.00575.x
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1111/j.1468-2508.2007.00575.x
Page Count: 12
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Battleground States versus Blackout States: The Behavioral Implications of Modern Presidential Campaigns
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Abstract

We examine the influence of “battleground” designation by presidential campaign strategists on the political activation and involvement of resource poor voters, particularly those in lower income brackets. We hypothesize that increased exposure to campaign stimuli may provide lower income voters in the contested states with an appreciable advantage over those in the “blackout” states by underwriting the costs associated with becoming engaged. Our findings show that the condition of living on contested electoral terrain does have a positive impact on the political interest and engagement levels of lower income voters. The results reinforce the importance of the political campaign as an instrument of democracy. Modern campaign strategies can diversify the electorate in meaningful ways, but the influence of the campaign is also limited by the narrow geographic targeting of party resources.

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