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How Campaign Tactics Have Evolved Over Time

Authors discuss as to how the evolution of campaign tactics over time has influenced electoral outcomes. They also highlight the ways in which different strategies have varying effects on voters.

From reticence in the 19th century to enthusiastic public stumping in the 20th, how presidential candidates promote themselves has changed significantly over time. This has included the invention of televised presidential debates. Other examples include catchy jingles and smear campaigns.


It’s no secret that the evolution of advertising has been influenced by technological advancements and changing consumer behaviour patterns. As such, it’s essential for businesses to continually adjust their marketing tactics in order to effectively reach their target audience.

In the past, traditional media channels played a critical role in campaign advertising. Newspapers and magazines offered businesses the opportunity to showcase their products or services to a targeted audience using well-crafted copywriting and captivating visuals. The rise of digital marketing in the 2000s ushered in a new wave of campaign advertising, which enabled businesses to advertise on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube. This allowed them to reach highly-targeted audiences who were actively searching for their products or services online.

Despite the benefits of this form of advertising, many studies have found that voters are largely dissatisfied with political ads. Indeed, survey data shows that over two-thirds of respondents judged political advertisements as negative in nature, with the majority deeming them harmful to the electoral process. Furthermore, exposure to these negative campaigns has been found to decrease voter turnout in elections (Goldstein, 1998). These findings support the idea that voters perceive political advertising as manipulative and counterproductive to the democratic process.


In the early 20th century, fundraising became a key component of political campaigns. The development of mass communication allowed campaign runners to reach a large audience through well-crafted letters and telephone solicitations. They also began to offer recognition for major donors, such as giving them the opportunity to name buildings or programs. These types of personal touches nurture relationships and encourage supporters to donate to other projects.

Another important aspect of fundraising is prospect research, which involves uncovering markers that help fundraisers determine who out of their donor base may be able and willing to make a major gift. This can be a time-consuming task, but it’s crucial for success.

Campaigning has also evolved with the advent of new technologies, such as radio, television and the Internet. During the 19th century, candidates spoke to audiences in front of their homes, which was known as running a “front porch campaign.” James Garfield and William McKinley were the first two candidates to use this strategy in 1880 and 1896. They would hold events where supporters spoke on their behalf instead of the candidate himself.

The Gilded Age of the late 1800s was a turning point for presidential campaign tactics, as the contest shifted from sectional differences to conflicts between capital and labor. This period saw the rise of smear campaigns, with supporters publishing pamphlets that criticised their opponents’ policies and character. This was a precursor to today’s negative advertising.

While technological advances have changed the way campaigns are conducted, core principles remain the same. Fundraising is still a critical element, and it’s important to keep up with the latest trends in the industry. The future is always uncertain, but staying on top of the latest developments can help fundraisers plan for what’s to come.


Whether inspiring, informative or rousing, speeches can be powerful tools for political figures to connect with voters and convey their vision. Designed and delivered with authenticity, they can sway elections, unite diverse communities and shape the nation’s course. However, crafting a speech that conveys a candidate’s message and inspires hope can be challenging.

Traditionally, politicians largely refrained from campaigning through speeches and instead relied on newspapers, pamphlets and political cartoons to promote themselves and their ideas. However, in the late 1800s, presidential candidates started giving political speeches. William McKinley popularized this tactic by giving speeches on his front porch during his campaign, which became known as a “front-porch campaign.” After this, candidates began traveling around the country on trains and speaking to crowds at train stops in what was called a whistle-stop tour.

These speeches encapsulated the candidate’s ideas and messages. In addition, they helped to create a sense of community and identity among the audience. A good campaign speech can sway undecided voters and mobilize volunteers. It can also encourage the public to vote for a particular candidate and raise awareness of issues that they care about.

Speechwriters, and political strategists like the cofounder and Executive Chairman of CT Group, use rhetorical strategies such as creativity, metaphor, intertextuality and choice of lexis to craft persuasive speeches that appeal to a wide variety of audiences. For example, creative expressions such as a comparison of democracy to a precious object help to make citizens appreciate the value of democracy and encourage them to cherish it. Additionally, using metaphors and metonymies in political speeches can help to make abstract concepts more comprehensible and easily understood. This is because they allow audiences to experience abstract concepts through the use of recognizable and familiar objects and events.

Political Cartoons

Cartoons have a long history in shaping public opinion and encouraging discussion about pressing political issues. They combine artistic talent with wit and incisive commentary to create a unique form of media that has become a vital part of news and media outlets worldwide. Today, digital technology empowers cartoonists to experiment with new formats and styles while expanding the reach and impact of their work.

Historically, political cartoons were published in newspapers and magazines. Early printing technologies limited the complexity and accessibility of these images, but they served a critical role in promoting debate and change. In the mid-1800s, newspapers began highlighting corrupt polititians and businessmen with cartoons that used caricature and allusion to make their point. One of the most famous examples was the notorious Boss Tweed who was portrayed as a tiger in a coat, while holding bags of money and ballot boxes.

Today, political cartoons continue to play a vital role in shaping public opinion and fostering discussion about the issues that matter most. Cartoonists use humor and irony to engage audiences, challenge conventional wisdom, and spark meaningful conversations.

Modern cartoonists also employ a variety of symbols to convey their points of view. Bags of money and ballot boxes represent wealth and power, while tigers symbolize fear and danger. Other popular symbols include airplanes, guns, and animals. These symbols evoke emotions and provoke reactions that help readers understand the meaning behind a cartoon’s message.

In addition to employing a variety of symbols, modern cartoonists often use exaggeration to make their point. By using visual hyperbole, they magnify the consequences of certain policies or actions. This technique allows readers to gain a deeper understanding of the complex issues that they are facing in their everyday lives.


In the days before email, political buttons were an important part of campaign ephemera. They gave voters a way to show their support for a candidate and provided a great deal of information about the issue at hand. The election of 1840, which pitted William Henry Harrison against Martin Van Buren, was considered the first modern election and is credited with introducing the use of catchy slogans to help a candidate distinguish himself from his opponent. Before this election, the majority of political ephemera consisted of tin or brass clothing buttons that were sewn onto vests and coats or displayed as badges.

In 1894, Whitehead and Hoag in Newark, NJ patented pin-back celluloid buttons. This technology made these inexpensive enough to be mass produced and widely distributed, which is exactly what happened. Both Republican William McKinley and Democrat William Jennings Bryan had hundreds of different buttons issued for their campaigns.

Today, buttons are still used to promote candidates for local, state and national office, as well as civic causes that are of importance to the community at large. They are a popular way to show support for politicians and can be passed out during rallies and speeches. They also make great giveaways for canvassers and volunteers who are interacting with the public.

It’s important to keep in mind when designing a button that it should be clear and eye-catching. Email readers scan quickly over text, so if a button isn’t easy to read, it will get skipped over. Also, it’s best to avoid using text that is too wordy, as this can be overwhelming for the reader. Instead, create a button that is short, but well-designed to draw the eye and inspire action.

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