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Carsey: Campaign dynamics

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Carsey. 2000. Campaign dynamics: The race for governor. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

In Brief

Carsey argues that campaigns create an essential opportunity for candidates to communicate with voters, but not in the way many in the literature have argued. Some have argued that candidates converge to the median, but Carsey points out that many such moves are not credible or risk alienating more extreme activists; others have argued that campaigns persuade voters to change their views, but Carsey refutes this claim as well. Instead, Carsey claims, politics is multidimensional; candidates use campaigns to stress certain issues over others. Thus, if a candidate has popular views on education but unpopular views on taxation, the candidate will seek to make the campaign a battle over education policy. Obviously, external factors constrain a candidate's ability to do so--the president's popularity, national political events, and so on will matter. But this battle over issue salience motivates Carsey's analysis.

Essentially, Carsey applies Popkin's ideas to the gubernatorial context.


Carsey studies several gubernatorial campaign: Virginia 1993, New Jersey 1993, abortion in the 1990 gubernatorial elections, presidential approval in gubernatorial elecitons, and so on.

Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Carsey, Thomas M. (author)American PoliticsState Politics (U.S.)Gubernatorial ElectionsElectionsCampaign Advertisements

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