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Political Communication and Campaigns

Workshop Leader:

Mary E. Stuckey, Georgia State University

The primary season leading up to the 2016 presidential election promises to be a particularly interesting one, given the lack of an incumbent, the deepening divisions within the Republican Party, the presence of the Tea Party, and the heightened debates over both foreign and domestic policies that cross party lines but that also create serious disputes within the parties. The free flow of money and the wide-open nature of the contest promise a prolonged and intense, potentially bitter series of primary elections. The scholars in this workshop will seize this opportunity to reflect on the institutional factors that contextualize political primaries, the specific events of the primary season, and the rhetoric that responds to and creates these contexts and events.

Primaries are structured by political institutions and processes, and so depending on the participants’ specific interests, we might discuss the macro structures of political parties; election processes such as realignment; or the role of primaries and caucuses in broader political terms like coalition building, political time, popular culture, and national identity . We might also pay attention to the kinds of rhetorical events associated with presidential elections, including the invisible primary, the Iowa Caucuses and early elections, the role of fund-raising, and so on. Finally, we might attend to the ways in which the specific candidates respond to these opportunities and constraints by looking directly at the speech, debate or ads, their use of electronic media and social networking, and the media coverage of the campaigns. In examining primaries, we will address larger questions related to elections, such as those posed by empirical work on the presidency in general and elections in particular—if, for instance, we can predict the outcomes of elections months and even years in advance, do elections matter, and if so, how do they matter and to what?

The goal of the workshop is to create, develop and refine specific research projects. So the conversations outlined above will be directed at helping participants decide on specific projects and outlining research strategies designed to further those projects. Participants do not need to have projects already in progress or fully formed research ideas but a general area of interest would be helpful in determining the specific readings and the contours of shared discussion.

Questions should be directed to Mary E. Stuckey, mstuckey@gsu.edu


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