Governor and U.S. Senate, 1989-2021

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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 partyThe 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.

By clicking on the x's at top 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.  A final, exciting step will be to develop pages showing the political history for each state over the years in terms of these top of the ticket races (examples OK, NJ and VA).

The project is very much an ongoing endeavor.  I am currently scanning the literature and putting together the pages by year, now working on 2014.  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. Contributions and grants will support this work. For example, access to Lexis-Nexis helps 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 also be most helpful.  Please don't hesitate to contact me.

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. What matters to the campaign is how effective a piece is.

Ultimately I would like to conduct a content analysis of these materials to understand how campaign literature is evolving over time and what the differences are from cycle to cycle.

Broadly, content 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. Nonetheless, the limited space afforded by a piece of paper as opposed to Internet forces a campaign to prioritize and highlight some points.

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 highlight 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. Photos can include formal family shots or head shots, archival shots of the candidate in younger days, shots of the candidates interacting with voters, stock images such as mountains or energy facilities used as wallpaper, and sometimes composite images. The content analysis may also 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. 

Even in this Internet era, the pieces of campaign literature handed out to voters during canvasses and at events still serve an important purpose, and they are the primary focus of this project.

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

[With even more resources, it might be possible to include shaded interactive maps that show the results by county when they are scrolled over, and to show trends over time (>)].

     M O R E      


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