The Wisdom of the War Room: U.S. Campaigning and Americanization

By Margaret Scammell

A paper by Margaret Scammell, spring 1996 fellow, explores the export of the American political campaign. Democratic campaigns around the globe have seen an increase in “professionalization” of communication, which Scammell examines critically. She also investigates the sources of ideas and influences which underpin U.S. campaigning rationale – why do campaigners behave as they do? The media/campaign nexus is clearly central but it is only part of the key to understanding modern campaigning. Equally crucial are perceptions of the relationship between the party/candidate and the voters. This paper is based on three main sources. The first is content analysis and close reading of the U.S. political consultants’ journal Campaigns and Elections since its inauguration in 1980. The second is the leading “how to win” guidebooks and articles, written by consultants themselves, rather than by others such as marketing professionals. The third is interviews with leading Republican and Democratic consultants.

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