Governor and U.S. Senate, 1989-2021

Gov.
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2022
 

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Introducing...The Candidate


The Campaign Literature Project and Archive provides a unique view of recent American political history through basic campaign literature from general election campaigns for Governor and U.S. Senate across election cycles. The project  celebrates American democracy by showing the range of candidates, viewpoints and issues.
 
I have collected these materials from Democratic, Republican and third party nominees and independent candidates for the top-of-the-ticket general election races in each state for more than 30 years, starting in 1989.
This is not a partisan endeavor; I'm interested in literature from the candidates irrespective of party. The project focuses on general introductory lit. pieces—brochures, leaflets, pamphlets, palm cards, plans, comparison pieces and even recipe cards. These can be thought of as the "introductory handshake" of campaign literature. They are typically found in campaign headquarters, distributed during canvasses and handed out to voters at rallies and events. There are other kinds of campaign literature, ranging from detailed position papers to slick persuasion mailers often used for attacks, which, while of interest, are not the primary focus here.

The project is very much an ongoing endeavor. I am currently scanning the literature and putting together the pages by year working backwards, now on 2014. At the same time, 2022 is a busy cycle, and I will be looking for literature from those races.
 
By clicking on the x's along the left of this page you can see the literature from each cycle. From there you can access pages on each contest as well as pages showing the candidates' literature by party. Across the top are links to pages showing the political history for each state in terms of these top of the ticket races. I have also put together notes on the races; these are somewhat uneven but may hopefully provide context.

I'd welcome any suggestions on funding or grants to support this work. There is a massive amount of material to scan, and it takes further work to produce the race overviews (access to Lexis-Nexis would help significantly in researching the  races). I'd also welcome any suggestions or comments you may have on the format and utility of these pages. Technical support to improve the backend of these pages would be most helpful, currently the menus must be individually updated. 

* * *
Since I started the project, much has changed in campaign communications; most obviously websites now provide an easy way for citizens to find out about campaigns and social media have assumed increasingly importance. The ascendance of the web has led to small and large changes in campaign literature. Tri-fold brochures have given way more and more to palm cards. Graphic design has advanced, bringing a broad range of fonts and font treatments and more abundant and varied use of photographs.

Depending on the resources and priorities of a campaign, its literature may be beautifully designed and printed on heavy paper stock or more hurriedly thrown together and run off on regular photocopy paper. Note, however, that a well-designed, informative black-and-white sheet can be as effective as a slick brochure. Even in this digital era, even on a low-budget campaign, thought should be given to producing print literature as part of the overall communications effort. The limited space afforded by a piece of paper, as opposed to the countless pages and posts a campaign can put up on the Internet, forces it to prioritize and highlight its main points.

I hope that this archive will serve as a resource for researchers. A content analysis of these materials may offer insights into how campaign literature is evolving over time and as well as what the differences are from cycle to cycle. For example, a most simple analysis of the 2020 Senate lit. pieces found the average piece had about 273 words (+). It seems likely that pre-Internet pieces had substantially more words.

Broadly, text in a brochure or palm card covers two major dimensions: a candidate's experience and qualifications and his or her positions; the proportion devoted to each varies according to the candidate. Many of these pieces have very little substance–sometimes just a few bullet points that it would be hard for any voter to disagree with. The aim may be to pique interest and point people to the campaign website and social media.

One expects analysis of the text will reveal differences among several dimensions. The major themes and issues emphasized from election cycle to election cycle are likely to be different. For example, immediately following 9/11, national security was a major concern; in recent cycles jobs and the economy have been key themes. In 2020 the pandemic was a major focus. Republican and Democratic materials show differences in the issues addressed and language used. Literature from governor and Senate races highlights different sets of issues. Depending on the state, party and ideological labels ("conservative" or "independent") may be important. Other words such as "values," "principles," "leader," "courage" and "fighter" may appear frequently.

The photographs, images and graphics used provide another area for analysis. The most basic image is a headshot of the candidate. Other images convey more information, for example featuring the candidate in an office or outdoor setting. Adding yet more information are photos of the candidate interacting with other people, for example conversing with one or several people—these can be unidentified voters or prominent officials. Literature frequently includes family shots, typically a formal group shot. The family dog often makes an appearance. Archival shots of the candidate in younger days may also be included. Sometimes there are solo shots of other people, for example endorsers or the opponent. Literature also includes stock images such as mountains, farmland or energy facilities used as wallpaper, and sometimes composite images. A content analysis might consider whether the images include symbols such as flags or guns or pets or military imagery.

Logos offer another area of possible analysis. Some logos include the state outline or state symbols; red, white and blue are obvious colors, but there are regional differences (for example green in Vermont and warm colors in New Mexico) and recently there seems to be use of green and blue combinations. 

 
In sum, printed campaign literature still serves an important purpose, and this project seeks to showcase and provide insights on these materials.

If you have or can send us a piece that is missing or if you're working on a campaign, please send examples of literature, if possible two of each in a flat envelope, to:

Eric M. Appleman
767 Radcliffe Ave.
Pacific Palisades, CA  90272

Questions, comments, please call or email:
310 496-9633  action08 @ gmail

You can return to this page from anywhere in the archive by clicking the top banner. If you see a broken link, please send an email.

     M O R E      

Presidential
2020
2016
2012

2018 Year of the Woman Candidate


you can help!

If you have access

to or can obtain lit.
relative to any of these pages, please let me know:

action08 @ gmail


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