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Bases Loaded: How US Presidential Campaigns Are Changing and Why It Matters | Costas Panagopoulos

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Costas Panagopoulos, Professor of Political Science and Department Chair

Over the past few decades, a fundamental shift in political campaign strategy has been afoot in U.S. elections: Political campaigns have been gradually shifting their attention away from swing voters toward their respective, partisan bases. Independents and weak partisans have been targeted with less frequency, and the emphasis in contemporary elections has been on strong partisans. This book documents this shift—away from persuasion toward base mobilization—in the context of U.S. presidential elections and explains that this phenomenon is likely linked to several developments, including advances in campaign technology and voter-targeting capabilities as well as insights from behavioral social science focusing on voter mobilization. The analyses show the 2000 presidential election represents a watershed cycle that punctuated this shift. The book also explores the implications of the shift toward base mobilization and links these developments to growing turnout rates for strong partisans and attenuating participation among independents or swing voters over time. The book concludes these patterns have contributed to heightened partisan polarization in the United States.

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