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Stump Speeches and Road Trips: The Impact of State Campaign Appearances in Presidential Elections

  • Jeffrey S. Hill (a1), Elaine Rodriquez (a2) and Amanda E. Wooden (a3)

Abstract

Travel, stump speeches, and pressing-the-flesh make up a large part of any presidential electoral campaign. Obviously, candidates feel that their appearances are important, as they make hundreds of appearances between Labor Day and Election Day. But are they right? Well over 100 million people cast ballots in November, but only the tiniest fraction of voters meets or catches a glimpse of either of the candidates. Do candidate appearances and contact sway voters in some way? In this article, we use changes in weekly state tracking polls to determine the impact of candidate appearances in battleground and non-battleground states. Using polling data from the 2000, 2004, and 2008 elections, we find that campaign appearances can change a candidate's polling percentages, and that the impact varies by candidate and location (battleground state, safe Democratic state, or safe Republican state). We also find that the selection of a vice-presidential candidate is important, because of this candidate's ability to campaign effectively.

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