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The Strategic Importance of State-Level Factors in Presidential Elections

Richard J. Powell
Publius
Vol. 34, No. 3, The State of American Federalism, 2003-2004 (Summer, 2004), pp. 115-130
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20184913
Page Count: 16
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The Strategic Importance of State-Level Factors in Presidential Elections
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Abstract

While political scientists usually rely on national models of presidential elections, the candidates and their campaign staffs tend to focus on state-by-state strategies. This study tests hypotheses that presidential candidates and their parties can increase their support in specific states through the strategic selection of their national-party convention sites and their vice-presidential running mates. This study also assesses the common assertion that candidates receive an electoral boost in states with incumbent governors from the same party. Utilizing a normed model of the presidential vote in the states that serves as a baseline for assessing the importance of these strategic factors, the study finds that presidential and vice-presidential candidates receive an electoral advantage in their home states and regions. Generally, parties do not derive significant electoral benefits in states selected to host the national convention or those in which they control the governorship. Important differences are found over time and between the two political parties.

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