For a number of years, voters and academic observers have been dissatisfied with a number of elements of American campaigns. Contemporary races are seen as too negative, too superficial, and too unfair or misleading. Based on these complaints, a variety of reform organizations have targeted millions of dollars to improve the situation. Through their efforts and those within the academic community, a wide range of reform initiatives have been undertaken, such as voluntary codes of conduct, industry self-regulation, certificate programs, tougher ethics rules for consultants, and the encouragement of more substantive venues. This book seeks to evaluate whether these activities have improved the level of campaign discourse and conduct in US House and Senate campaigns and argues that while individual reform efforts have achieved some of their stated objectives, the overall effect of these reform efforts has been disappointing.
A former candidate for Congress and a Democratic party activist, L. Sandy Maisel is the author of From Obscurity to Oblivion: Running in the Congressional Primary, Parties and Elections in America: The Electoral Process and Two Parties - Or More? The American Party System with John Bibby. Among the books he has edited and contributed to are: The Parties Respond: Changes in American Parties and Campaigns, Jews in American Politics, and Political Parties and Elections in the United States: An Encyclopedia. Maisel also serves as editor for the new On Politics series, published by Paradigm Publishers. He and his wife, Patrice Franko, are currently at work on a book entitled Fore and After: Signature Holes and Signature Dishes from the World's Great Golf Resorts. Darrell M. West is the author of fourteen books dealing with media, elections, and technology policy. Among these are Air Wars: Television Advertising in Political Campaigns; Patrick Kennedy: The Rise to Power; The Rise and Fall of the Media Establishment; and Celebrity Politics, and Digital Government: Technology and Public Sector Performance. He has given talks in a number of countries around the world and is a frequent commentator on media and elections. Brett M. Clifton is Assistant Director of Administration and Programs, and Lecturer in Public Policy at the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University. His scholarly articles have appeared in Political Science Quarterly and Party Politics. His research and teaching interests include political organizations, institutions, campaigns and elections, and religion and politics.
Preface; 1. Campaign reformers: optimists, skeptics, and rejectionists; 2. Dissemination of campaign practices; 3. Impact on campaign conduct; 4. Impact on campaign discourse; 5. Impact on public perceptions; 6. Improving the system; Appendices: A. Data and methodology; B. Public opinion survey; C. Consultant survey; D. Focus group protocol.