The 2004 election cycle was the first time candidates and noncandidate groups operate under the new campaign finance regulations, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) as interpreted by the Supreme Court in McConnell v. FEC. As it did in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004, CSED organized and implemented a national study of the most competitive contests, where outside group spending is most probable, during the 2006 cycle. CSED studied six competitive House races and four Senate races with the help of 15 academics from 13 universities.
The 2006 project is composed of several smaller research projects aimed at providing a more complete analysis of the 2006 elections.
As in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004, we monitored campaign communications through academic field work teams and reconnaissance networks. The academics in each sample race observed the contest and retrieved data on all campaign communications with voters. The academic teams supplemented these efforts with the standard Federal Election Commission data on the candidate campaigns and party and PAC expenditures. They also conducted post-election interviews with campaign managers, consultants, and political reporters involved with the interest groups or parties invested in these races.
CSED worked in conjunction with Polimetrix to conduct a log survey. Participants in the log survey recorded all political communications they receive during the three weeks leading up to Election Day. The survey was a sample of registered voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania. After the three week span, each respondent’s log of political communication was coded and analyzed.
Using a case-study methodology, CSED documented the previously unknown aspects of candidate and noncandidate campaigns. The research methodology relied on academic field researchers and would be wholly impossible without the collaboration of highly skilled and qualified individuals across the nation.
The CSED research design is based on three assumptions. First, noncandidate campaign activity is most likely to occur in competitive races. Second, because much of noncandidate campaign activity is not disclosed, it is best uncovered and understood by someone with knowledge of the local context. To understand the full impact and reach of noncandidate activity, academics knowledgeable about the competitive race were recruited to systematically monitor each campaign. Third, interviewing political professionals is one of the best ways to uncover information on decision making and funding allocation strategies. Elite interviewing helps “connect the dots” of our data collection efforts—both by validating what is discovered in the data collection efforts of the academics as well as by providing new information.
The CSED methodology relied heavily on academic fieldwork and reconnaissance networks. The academics in each sample race observed the contest and retrieved data on noncandidate campaign communications with voters. They also monitored television and radio advertising buys, direct mail, and telephone contacts, print advertising, and internet communications where possible. The academics supplemented these efforts with the standard Federal Election Commission data on the candidate campaigns, party, and PAC expenditures. They also conducted post-election interviews with campaign managers, consultants, and political reporters involved with the interest groups or parties invested in these races. These case studies provide the richest, most feasible, and most accurate method of understanding the phenomenon of campaign spending by noncandidate entities in congressional elections.
The sampling pool of competitive races CSED monitors is developed based on a combination of lists of competitive races published in early spring by the Cook Political Report, the Rothenberg Political Report, and the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report. This list is enhanced by interviews with current and former party and interest group professionals, reporters, and other political experts who help identify contests in which outside money is most likely to be present. In the final stages of sample selection, we quantify the input from the contacts and published sources by computing an additive score for each race. Each score is comprised of a combination of the ratings in the published reports together with the likely competitive races named by the Republicans and key allied groups as well those named by the Democrats and key allied groups. Once scored, the list is sorted in rank order, and we select the races according to their ranking.
Click here to download the monograph that was released at a press event held February 7, 2007 at the Pew Charitable Trusts offices in Washington, D.C. Click here to view the press release about the event.
The initial monograph was later published as a book by Paradigm Publishers. Click here for more information.
||Robert J. Duffy||Colorado State University|
|Kyle L. Saunders||Colorado State University|
||Majorie Randon Hershey||Indiana University|
|Nicholas J. Clark||Indiana University|
|Minnesota 6 & Senate
||William H. Flanigan||University of Minnesota|
|Kathryn Pearson||University of Minnesota|
|Nancy H. Zingale||University of St. Thomas|
||Craig Wilson||Montana State University - Billings|
|New Mexico 1
||Lonna Rae Atkeson||University of New Mexico|
|Lorraine Tafoya||University of New Mexico|
|Ohio Senate, 13, 15, & 18
||University of Akron|
|Michael John Burton
|David B. Cohen
||University of Akron
|Daniel Coffey||University of Akron
|Anne C. Hanson||University of Akron|
|Stephen T. Mockabee||University of Cincinnati|
|John C. Green||University of Akron|
|Pennsylvania Senate & 6||Robin Kolodny||Temple University|
|Stephen Medvic||Franklin & Marshall|
|Pennsylvania Senate||Daniel Shea||Alleghany College|
|Kyle Kreider||Wilkes University|
The CSED studies were important to the District and Supreme Court rulings in McConnell v. FEC. The three judge federal district court decision in McConnell v. FEC frequently referred to our research in its decision. Roger M. Witten of the law firm Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering said the CSED research was an “important contribution" to the case.
The air war includes broadcast electioneering communications, communications run through television or radio. Electioneering on the air is regulated by both the FEC and FCC. BCRA requires disclosure of broadcast communications to the FEC if more than $10,000 is spent. The FCC also requires stations to keep a record of all broadcast time purchased. By law, these records are available for public inspection during regular business hours. While the air war is more regulated than the ground war, candidates, parties, and groups continue to use it as a medium for communicating their messages.
CSED tracked air war activity through a log survey where registered voters are asked to log all electioneering communication they receive during the three weeks prior to the election. To supplement this data, academics in competitive districts visited broadcast outlets to collect information about broadcast communications contained in the public access file. Furthermore, CSED purchased data on television advertising from the Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG). Using these different resources, CSED was able to obtain one of the most accurate assessments of air war activity.
The ground war includes non-broadcast electioneering communications such as mailers, telephone contact, door-to-door canvassing, newspapers, magazines, internet communication and email. Electioneering on the ground is not regulated or disclosed to the FEC, making ground communications increasingly important tools in federal elections. This is in part because ground war techniques such as telephone calls, direct mail, and door-to-door canvassing allow an increased ability to target subgroups of potential voters and because the techniques are perceived as more effective than complete reliance on television advertising. In addition, the ground war may provide some groups a more cost-effective method of communicating their message.
CSED tracked ground war activity through a log survey where registered voters are asked to log all electioneering communication they receive three weeks prior to the election. To supplement this data, academics in the districts of competitive races built reconnaissance networks to help collect data on mailers and telephone calls received in these districts by a variety of targeted groups.