Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 30, 2018

What if Hillary Clinton Had Gone to Wisconsin? Presidential Campaign Visits and Vote Choice in the 2016 Election

Christopher J. Devine
From the journal The Forum

Abstract

Hillary Clinton’s failure to visit the key battleground state of Wisconsin in 2016 has become a popular metaphor for the alleged strategic inadequacies of her presidential campaign. Critics who cite this fact, however, make two important assumptions: that campaign visits are effective, in general, and that they were effective for Clinton in 2016. I test these assumptions using an original database of presidential and vice presidential campaign visits in 2016. Specifically, I regress party vote share on each candidate’s number of campaign visits, at the county level, first for all counties located within battleground states, and then for counties located within each of six key battleground states: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The results of this analysis do not clearly support either of the assumptions made by Clinton’s critics. In general, none of the presidential or vice presidential candidates – including Clinton – significantly influenced voting via campaign visits. However, Clinton is one of only two candidates – along with Mike Pence, in Ohio – whose campaign visits had a significant effect on voting in an individual state. Specifically, Clinton’s visits to Pennsylvania improved the Democratic ticket’s performance in that state by 1.2 percentage points. Also, there is weak evidence to suggest that Clinton might have had a similar effect on voting in Michigan. It is unclear from this evidence whether Clinton also would have gained votes, or even won, in Wisconsin had she campaigned in that state. But two conclusions are clear. First, Clinton’s visits to Democratic-leaning battleground states did not have the “backfiring” effect that her campaign reportedly feared. Second, Donald Trump did not win in Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Wisconsin as a direct result of his campaign visits to those decisive states.

References

Allen, Jonathan, and Amy Parnes. 2017. Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign. New York: Crown. Search in Google Scholar

Althaus, Scott L., Peter F. Nardulli, and Daron R. Shaw. 2002. “Candidate Appearances in Presidential Elections, 1972–2000.” Political Communication 19: 49–72. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/105846002317246489. Search in Google Scholar

Bayatpour, A. J. 2016. “‘We Needed to See Hillary:’ Clinton Failed to Rally Voters in Milwaukee County; Trump Won Wisconsin.” Fox6 (Milwaukee), November 9. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://fox6now.com/2016/11/09/we-needed-to-see-hillary-clinton-failed-to-rally-voters-in-milwaukee-county-trump-won-wisconsin. Search in Google Scholar

Bradley, Laura. 2017. “Seth Meyers to Hillary Clinton: Lay Off Bernie Sanders.” Vanity Fair, September 7. Accessed February 23, 2018. https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/09/hillary-clinton-what-happened-bernie-sanders-seth-meyers-late-night. Search in Google Scholar

Chen, Lanhee J., and Andrew Reeves. 2011. “Turning Out the Base or Appealing to the Periphery? An Analysis of County-Level Candidate Appearances in the 2008 Presidential Campaign.” American Politics Research 39: 534–556. Search in Google Scholar

Clinton, Hillary Rodham. 2017. What Happened. New York: Simon & Schuster. Search in Google Scholar

Conway, Kellyanne. 2017. Twitter.com, May 2. Accessed February 23, 2018. https://twitter.com/kellyannepolls/status/859578739818213376?lang=en. Search in Google Scholar

Devine, Christopher J. 2018. “Oh, the Places They’ll Go: The Geography and Political Strategy of Presidential Campaign Visits in 2016.” In Studies of Communication in the 2016 Presidential Campaign, edited by Robert E. Denton, Jr., 45–68. Lanham, MD: Lexington. Search in Google Scholar

Engel, Pamela. 2016. “Clinton Never Set Foot in Wisconsin – Then She Lost It, and It Helped Cost Her the Presidency.” Business Insider, November 9. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.businessinsider.com/clinton-losing-wisconsin-results-2016-11. Search in Google Scholar

Erikson, Robert S., and Thomas R. Palfrey. 1993. “The Spending Game: Money, Votes, and Incumbency in Congressional Elections.” Social Science Working Paper No. 806. California Institute of Technology. Accessed February 23, 2018. https://authors.library.caltech.edu/80776/1/sswp851.pdf. Search in Google Scholar

Franklin, Charles. 2001. “Pre-election Polls in Nation and State: A Dynamic Bayesian Hierarchical Model.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, 2001. Search in Google Scholar

Gordon, Sanford C., Gregory A. Huber, and Dimitri Landa. 2007. “Challenger Entry and Voter Learning.” American Political Science Review 101: 303–320. Search in Google Scholar

Heersink, Boris, and Brenton D. Peterson. 2017. “Truman Defeats Dewey: The Effect of Campaign Visits on Election Outcomes.” Electoral Studies 49: 49–64. Search in Google Scholar

Herr, J. Paul. 2002. “The Impact of Campaign Appearances in the 1996 Election.” Journal of Politics 64: 904–913. Search in Google Scholar

Hill, Jeffrey S., Elaine Rodriguez, and Amanda E. Wooden. 2010. “Stump Speeches and Road Trips: The Impact of State Campaign Appearances in Presidential Elections.” PS: Political Science & Politics 43: 243–254. Search in Google Scholar

Hohman, James. 2017. “The Daily 202: As Trumpism Coopts CPAC, the Reagan Era Ends.” The Washington Post, February 24. Accessed February 23, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/02/24/daily-202-as-trumpism-coopts-cpac-the-reagan-era-ends/58af8869e9b69b1406c75cf0/?utm_term=.45d13f52ee4f. Search in Google Scholar

Holbrook, Thomas M. 2002. “Did the Whistle-Stop Campaign Matter?” PS: Political Science and Politics 35: 59–66. Search in Google Scholar

Holbrook, Thomas M., and Scott D. McClurg. 2005. “The Mobilization of Core Supporters: Campaigns, Turnout, and Electoral Composition in United States Presidential Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 49: 689–703. Search in Google Scholar

Johnston, Richard, Michael G. Hagen, and Kathleen Hall Jamieson. 2004. The 2000 Presidential Election and the Foundations of Party Politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Search in Google Scholar

Jones, Jeffrey M. 1998. “Does Bringing out the Candidate bring out the Votes? The Effects of Nominee Campaigning in Presidential Elections.” American Politics Quarterly 26: 395–419. Search in Google Scholar

Kantar Media. 2016. “DMA County Coverage.” Accessed February 23, 2018. http://kantarmedia.srds.com/common/pdf/DMA-County-Coverage.pdf. Search in Google Scholar

King, David C., and David Morehouse. 2004. “Moving Voters in the 2000 Presidential Campaign: Local Visits, Local Media.” In Lights, Camera, Campaign!: Media, Politics, and Political Advertising, edited by David A. Schultz, 301–317. New York: Peter Lang. Search in Google Scholar

LaCombe, Andrew. 2016. “2 Days Before Election Day, Tim Kaine Campaigns in Green Bay.” Fox11 (Green Bay), November 6. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://fox11online.com/news/election/kaine-plans-uwgb-campaign-stop-sunday-at-1-pm. Search in Google Scholar

Levitz, Eric. 2016. “Trump and Pence Head to Minnesota in Sign of Desperation.” New York Magazine, November 5. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/trump-and-pence-head-to-minnesota-in-sign-of-desperation.html. Search in Google Scholar

Quigley, Aidan. 2017. “Axelrod: Comey ‘Didn’t Tell Hillary Clinton Not to Campaign in Wisconsin.” Politico, May 3. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/03/david-axelrod-reacts-hillary-clinton-james-comey-237924. Search in Google Scholar

Shaw, Daron R. 1999. “The Effect of TV Ads and Candidate Appearances on Statewide Presidential Votes, 1988–96.” American Political Science Review 93: 345–361. Search in Google Scholar

Shaw, Daron R. 2006. The Race to 270: The Electoral College and Campaign Strategies of 2000 and 2004. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Search in Google Scholar

Sheridan, Chris. 2016. “Why Donald Trump Draws Crowds, Hillary Clinton Doesn’t.” Al-Jazeera, November 4. Accessed February 23, 2018. http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/americas/2016/11/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-rallies-161104233413813.html. Search in Google Scholar

Spence, Michael. 1973. “Job Market Signaling.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 87 (3): 355–374. Search in Google Scholar

Wood, Thomas. 2016. “What the Heck are We Doing in Ottumwa, Anyway? Presidential Candidate Visits and Their Political Consequence.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 667: 110–125. Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2018-08-30

©2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston