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Congressional Elections

Congressional Elections
Campaigning at Home and in Washington

Eighth Edition

December 2019 | 408 pages | CQ Press
“It is the gold standard for texts on congressional campaigns and elections.”

— Bruce A. Larson, Gettysburg College

In Congressional Elections: Campaigning at Home and in Washington authors Paul Herrnson and Costas Panagopoulos combine top-notch research with real-world politics as they argues that successful candidates run two campaigns: one for votes, the other for resources. Using campaign finance data, original survey research, and hundreds of interviews with candidates and political insiders, Herrnson and Panagopoulos look at how this dual strategy affects who wins and how it ultimately shapes the entire electoral system. The Eighth Edition considers the impact of the Internet and social media on campaigning in the 2018 elections; the growing influence of interest groups; and the influence of new voting methods on candidate, party, and voter mobilization tactics.

Tables and Figures
Authorship and Acknowledgments
Chapter 1 The Strategic Context
The Candidate-Centered Campaign

The Institutional Framework

Political Culture

Campaign Technology

The Political Setting

Recent Congressional Elections

Chapter 2 Candidates and Nominations
Strategic Ambition

Passing the Primary Test

Nominations, Elections, and Representation

The Senate

Chapter 3 The Anatomy of a Campaign
Campaign Organizations

Campaign Budgets

Senate Campaigns

Chapter 4 The Parties Campaign
National Agenda-Setting

National, Congressional, and Senatorial Campaign Committees

Strategy, Decision-Making, and Targeting

Campaign Contributions and Coordinated Expenditures

Campaign Services

Outside Campaigns

The Impact of Party Campaigning

Chapter 5 The Interests Campaign
Organizing for Electoral Influence

Strategy, Decision-Making, and Targeting

PAC Contributions

Campaign Services

Outside Campaigns

The Impact of Interest Group Activity

Chapter 6 The Campaign for Resources
Inequalities in Resources

House Incumbents

House Challengers

Candidates for House Open Seats

Senate Campaigns

Single-Candidate Super PACs and 501(c) Organizations

Female Candidates, Political Movements, and Campaign Fundraising

Chapter 7 Campaign Strategy
Voting Behavior

Voters and Campaign Strategy

Gauging Public Opinion

Voter Targeting

The Message

Chapter 8 Campaign Communications
Television Advertising

Radio Advertising

Newspaper Advertising

Direct Mail and Newsletters

Telephone Calls

Digital Advertising

Free Media

Attracting Coverage


The Importance of Different Communications Techniques

Outside Campaigns

Chapter 9 Candidates, Campaigns, and Electoral Success
House Incumbent Campaigns

House Challenger Campaigns

House Open-Seat Campaigns

Senate Campaigns

Claiming Credit and Placing Blame

Chapter 10 Elections and Governance
The Permanent Campaign

A Decentralized Congress

Political Parties as Centralizing Agents

Responsiveness, Responsibility, and Public Policy

Chapter 11 Campaign Reform
The Case for Reform

Obstacles to Reform

The BCRA and the DISCLOSE Act

The NVRA and the HAVA

Some Ideas for Reform

Name Index


"It is, in my view, the best of the congressional elections texts."

John Dinan
Wake Forest University

"In a few words: comprehensive, well-written, and timely. Herrnson was among the first to detect the role of the party-in-the-campaign centered in Washington, D.C., and the intervening years have proved him right."

John White
Catholic University of America

"This book is an excellent, engaging read in which students can learn a lot about the myths and realities of how congressional elections operate."

Ken Moffett
Southern Illinois University Evansville
Key features
  • 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
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