Kennedy School Researchers Ask: What Moves Voters?

Contact: Molly Lanzarotta
Phone: 617-495-1144
Date: August 03, 2004

CAMBRIDGE, MA – There is a tradeoff between campaign spending on television commercials and the benefits of a candidate making local appearances, according to a study being published this month by researchers David King of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and David Morehouse, formerly of the Kennedy School.
"Moving Voters in the 2000 Presidential Campaign: Local Visits, Local Media," will appear in the book "Lights, Camera, Campaign," (David Schultz, ed. New York: Peter Lang). The study indicates that on a dollars-per-vote basis, candidate trips to key regions are very often a more effective way to reach voters than blanketing an area with television advertisements.
"Local campaign appearances generate tremendous free media coverage," says King, "which often offset the costs of appearing before relatively small audiences in out-of-the-way parts of America."
The study looks specifically at polling data in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois media markets before and after Presidential candidate Al Gore's August 2000 campaign trip down the Mississippi River. The authors argue that campaign resources spent on local visits expose candidates during several media cycles, and that this had a significant impact on Gore's general election victories in Iowa and Wisconsin.
The study is accessible through the Kennedy School's Working Papers website:
David C. King is Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he also serves as research director at the Institute of Politics. While completing this project, David Morehouse was Deputy Director of Executive Programs at the Kennedy School.


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