Spotlight: US Political Campaigns and Elections

Voting is considered an essential cornerstone of democracy, allowing citizens a choice in who represents them. Through various forms of outreach and organizing, electoral campaigns work to win voter support leading up to an election. This page features a curated selection of annotated bibliographies drawn from Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science, designed to help scholars understand key theories and topics in our discipline. 

  • US Presidential Campaigns and Their Impact

    “US presidential campaigns dominate national media attention during increasingly long periods before election day. Presidential campaigns deliver messages by way of television, radio, mail, and online media with a goal of persuading voters to support their candidate and mobilizing supporters to turnout on Election Day.”-Andrew Reeves, David Miller, Bryant Moy

  • Public Presidency, US Elections, and the Permanent Campaign

    “The permanent campaign typically refers to the notion that the line between campaigning and governing has become increasingly blurred. As such, it is commonplace to see campaign-like tactics (polling, public relations techniques, sound bites) being used in governing.”-Kathryn Dunn Tenpas

  • Campaign Finance in the Era of Super PACS

    “While super PACS cannot give money directly to candidates or directly coordinate their efforts with candidates or parties, within a short amount of time they developed the ability to come quite close to serving as parallel campaign organizations.”- Robert G. Boatright

  • Advertising and Election Campaigns in the United States

    “In each election cycle, campaigns for elective office in the United States combine to raise and spend billions of dollars, and candidates and volunteers devote untold unpaid hours to promote their causes. The campaigns with sufficiently large bank balances use most of their money for airtime on television, most purchased in thirty-second portions, during which candidates communicate their case to potential supporters.”” -Michael Hagen

  • Negative Campaigning

    “Negative campaigning is hardly a new phenomenon. It has almost certainly existed for as long as there have been political campaigns. Scholarly interest in negative campaigning rose in the 1990s, stemming, in large part, from concerns about its impact on citizens, such as whether it might mislead voters, dampen their desire to participate in politics or create a generation of cynics.”-Travis N. Ridout, Samuel C. Rhodes

  • Redistricting and Electoral Competition in American Politics

    “Redistricting, or the process of redrawing congressional district boundaries, can be a highly contentious and political affair. Electoral competition within districts is dependent on both of the major American political parties being evenly balanced. Therefore, redistricting can enhance or diminish competition through how it distributes partisans across districts. […] Throughout history, Congress, the US Supreme Court, individual states, the American electorate, and an ever-evolving political environment have all impacted the construction of district maps.”-Ryan Williamson

  • Election Forecasting

    “Election forecasting appeals to a basic human urge to peek into the future. Ever since elections were invented to choose leaders, humans have been tempted to find ways that would tell them with some degree of certainty who would win an election. The highly quantitative nature of elections aids them in such an endeavor.”-Mary Stegmaier, Helmut Norpoth

  • Voter Turnout

    “Although turnout is the most widespread form of political participation, many people do not vote. Moreover, turnout varies substantially over time and across types of elections within a country as well as across countries. […] Explanations for turnout variation have focused both on individual characteristics (such as age, education, or political attitudes) and contextual features (such as the effect of compulsory voting, electoral systems, or party competition).”-Andre Blais, Eva Anduiza

  • Voter Support for Women Candidates

    “A central research thread on voters and women candidates is how voters perceive women candidates and, in turn, their electability. Research on gender stereotypes and candidates examines voter perceptions of the traits they typically associate with men and women, candidates, and officeholders and the circumstances under which these traits make gender and political candidacy more or less attractive.”- Rosalyn Cooperman

  • Minority Political Engagement and Representation in the United States

    “Increasingly, the discipline of political science is recognizing the necessity of examining political engagement among minority groups, especially since the civil rights movement’s efforts to place enough pressure on the political system to effect legal and political change. The increasing sociopolitical visibility of racial and ethnic minorities within the United States, in conjunction with increasing numbers of members of these groups in academic settings (many of whom also examine political behavior among minorities), has led to a burgeoning field of study concerning minority political engagement.”-Jessican Carew

  • Youth and Generational Differences in US Politics

    “[It] is quite clear that there tends to be a difference in the way that the average member of one generation perceives the world, interacts with their political institutions, and views other members of society in comparison to the average member of another generation. These observations represent some of the forces that influence aggregate change in political attitudes and behaviors over time: age effects, period effects, and cohort effects.”-Candis W. Smith

Featured image credit: .Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

We want to hear from you.
Oxford Bibliographies is a partnership between the publisher and the academic community, and we invite you to participate. Please feel welcome to email

Find out how to subscribe.