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The Last Hurrah?

Soft Money and Issue Advocacy in the 2002 Congressional Elections

edited by David B. Magleby and J. Quin Monson

Publication Year: 2004

The 2002 midterm elections were noteworthy U.S. congressional campaigns for many reasons. They marked the last national contests before implementation of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) and thus were expected by many to be the "last hurrah" for soft money. These midterm campaigns provided a window on the activity of parties, interest groups, and political consultants on the eve of BCRA, as they prepared to enter a new era of American elections. The results of Campaign 2002 were remarkable. As the party in power, the Republicans defied history by gaining seats in both houses of Congress, giving them a majority in the Senate. To some degree this resulted from the GOP's new emphasis on "ground war" voter mobilization. Another key was the unusually aggressive support of the sitting president, who leveraged his popularity to advance his party's candidates for Congress. Th e Last Hurrah? analyzes the role of soft money and issue advocacy in the 2002 battle for Congress. Having been granted access to a number of campaign operations across a broad array of groups, David Magleby, Quin Monson, and their colleagues monitored and documented a number of competitive races, including the key South Dakota and Missouri Senate contests. Each case study breaks down the campaign communication in a particular race, including devices such as advertising, get-out-the-vote drives, "soft money" expenditures, and the increasingly influential role of the national parties on local races. They also discuss the overall trends of the midterm election of 2002, paying particular attention to the impact of President Bush and his political operation in candidate recruitment, fundraising, and campaign visits. Magleby and Monson consider an important question typically overlooked. How do voters caught in the middle of a hotly contested race deal with —and react to —a barrage of television and radio ads, direct mail, unsolicited phone calls, and other campaign communications? They conclude with a look to the future, using the trends in 2002 to understand just how candidates, political parties, and interest groups might respond to the new campaign environment of BCRA.

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Title Page

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pp. iii


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xi

This book examines campaign finance in federal elections in 2002, the last time campaign financing was governed by the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA). The surge in party soft money spending that we document here continued a trend begun in 1996 when parties began using large amounts of soft money for...

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Chapter One. The Importance of Outside Money in the 2002 Congressional Elections

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pp. 1-35

The relative role of candidates, parties, and interest groups in competitive congressional elections has undergone a dramatic transformation since 1996. Before 1996, and in noncompetitive races since, candidates were the primary loci of activity in raising and spending campaign money.1 The...

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Chapter Two. Party Money in the 2002 Congressional Elections

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pp. 36-62

On march 27, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). BCRA is comprehensive: It raises individual contribution limits, redefines issue advocacy, mandates greater disclosure, and bans soft money. But BCRA’s centerpiece is the abolition of party...

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Chapter Three. Interest-Group Electioneering in the 2002 Congressional Elections

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pp. 63-89

The united states has a wide array of interest groups, many of which seek to influence the outcome of congressional elections. Our representative democracy lends itself, by its very nature, to being influenced by factions of its citizens. Citizens form groups to influence government policies on ideological and economic issues about which they feel passionate. The need...

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Chapter Four. Get On TeleVision vs. Get On The Van: GOTV and the Ground War in 2002

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pp. 90-116

Ground-war efforts played a critical role in competitive contests in the 2002 election. The ground war refers to non-broadcast campaign communications, such as telephone calls, direct mail, and person-to-person contacts, which are often designed to increase voter turnout. Other elements...

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Chapter Five. From Intensity to Tragedy: The Minnesota U.S. Senate Race

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pp. 117-136

The tragic death of Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) eleven days before the 2002 election created shock waves throughout Minnesota. On Friday, October 25, Senator Wellstone was killed in a plane crash in northern Minnesota. A moratorium...

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Chapter Six. Battle for the Bases: The Missouri U.S. Senate Race

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pp. 137-158

The 2002 u.s. senate race in Missouri lasted twenty-four and a half months, beginning with the tragic death of Democratic Governor Mel Carnahan on October 16, 2000, and ending with Jim Talent’s Republican victory on November 5, 2002. Because this seat could have changed partisan control of the...

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Chapter Seven. The More You Spend, the Less They Listen: The South Dakota U.S. Senate Race

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pp. 159-179

With control of the senate at stake, South Dakota became a key battleground state in the 2002 race. President Bush saw an opportunity to not only gain a seat but to deliver a political blow to the Democrats in Majority Leader Tom Daschle’s own state. The president persuaded popular...

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Chapter Eight. Strings Attached: Outside Money in Colorado's Seventh District

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pp. 180-204

In every general election political pundits select a handful of “toss-up” congressional races they deem too close to call.1 In 2002 Colorado’s newly carved Seventh Congressional District lived up to its competitive billing.,sup>2 Despite being outpolled...

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Chapter Nine. Incumbent vs. Incumbent in Connecticut's Fifth District

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pp. 205-224

Two incumbents fought for their political lives in the 2002 House race in Connecticut’s newly redrawn Fifth District, spending more than any other congressional race in state history. The state had lost one seat in the House because of slow population...

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Chapter Ten. When Incumbents Clash, Fundamentals Matter: Pennsylvania Seventeen

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pp. 225-240

In 2002 Pennsylvania’s Seventeenth Congressional District was one of four races nationally in which two incumbents faced off as the result of redistricting.1 This race should have been relatively safe for the Republicans. Instead it was the most competitive of the member-versus-member House...

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Chapter Eleven. When Redistricting Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry: Utah's Second District

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pp. 241-257

The story of the 2002 race in Utah’s Second Congressional District reads like a mystery thriller, complete with plot twists and a surprise ending. Going into the 2002 election cycle, most of the national punditry, including the Cook Political Report and Campaigns and Elections, identified the...

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Chapter Twelve. The Consequences of Noncandidate Spending, with a Look to the Future

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pp. 258-280

Outside money has changed the dynamics of campaigns and elections in competitive congressional elections. Unlike most candidate-centered congressional elections, much of the campaigning in a competitive race falls outside the control of the candidate. Political parties and interest groups...

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Appendix A. Studying the Noncandidate Campaign: Case Study and Survey Methodology

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pp. 281-298

The methodology employed in this research is designed to draw upon multiple sources of information (both quantitative and qualitative) to investigate noncandidate campaign activity in congressional elections. Using a set of case studies that employ multiple methods of data collection, we sought to systematically...

Appendix B. Interviews Conducted by CSED Researchers

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pp. 299-301


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pp. 303


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pp. 305-320

E-ISBN-13: 9780815796404
E-ISBN-10: 0815796404

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2004