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

The Strategic Context

Chapter 1 The strategic context

Congressional elections, and elections in the United States in general, are centered more on candidates than are elections in other modern industrialized democracies. Why is this the case, and how does it affect the conduct of congressional elections? In this chapter we discuss the candidate-centered U.S. election system and explain how the Constitution, election laws, and the political parties form the system’s institutional framework. We also explain how the nation’s political culture and recent developments in technology have helped this system flourish.

Other important topics covered involve the political setting, or context. The political setting in a given election year has a substantial influence on electoral competition and, ultimately, the potential for turnover in Congress. It includes some ...

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