Case studies and campaign fundraising and spending figures from the 2018 midterm elections Influence of the #MeToo movement and unprecedented numbers of female activists and donors. Analysis of the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives. The rise of super PACs and 501(c) organizations that exist for the sole purpose of advancing the career of an individual candidate and can raise money from sources and in amounts prohibited to the candidate The increased influence of wealthy individuals and groups on the conduct of congressional campaigns The use of social media and the Internet to raise money, communicate with voters, recruit volunteers, and pretest television ads Updated coverage of campaign strategy and communications includes the use of big data, microtargeting, and social media Introduction of new convenience voting methods in many states Introduction of other state reforms, such as redistricting commissions and California’s top-two primary system



Elections are the centerpiece of democracy. They are the means Americans use to choose their political leaders, and they give those who have been elected the authority to rule. Elections also provide voters with a vehicle for expressing their views about the direction they think this rule ought to take. In theory, elections are the principal mechanism for ensuring “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”1

An examination of the different aspects of the electoral process provides insights into the operations of the U.S. political system. Separate balloting for presidential, congressional, state, and local candidates results in legislators who represent parochial interests, sometimes to the detriment of the formation of national policy. Private financing of congressional campaigns, consistent with Americans’ belief in ...

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