Candidate Appearances in Presidential Elections, 1972-2000

Scott L. Althaus, Peter F. Nardulli, Daron R. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Although many recent studies have examined presidential campaigns, most have concentrated on television advertising or news media coverage as the key variables of interest. Few empirical analyses have focused on the pattern of candidate appearances, and almost none have considered changes in these patterns over time. This gap is intriguing because some places should tend to receive more attention than others, and yet we know very little about the electoral strategies that determine where and why candidates make appearances. We expect that presidential campaigns have increasingly emphasized visits to particular locales because these visits are critical for driving the agenda and shaping voter perceptions through local news media coverage. Our analysis of presidential campaign appearances at the county, media market, and state levels in general elections from 1972-2000 indicates that presidential candidate appearances are increasing both in number and in geographic scope over time. While candidate appearances are concentrated in areas with especially dense and large populations, most eligible voters live in media markets that receive at least one visit by a presidential candidate, and the percentage of eligible voters exposed to especially intense personal campaigning has been on the rise. In contrast to our expectations, our findings suggest that presidential campaign appearances have not become more narrowly focused on smaller segments of the American population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-72
Number of pages24
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2002


  • Campaign strategies
  • Candidate appearances
  • U.S. presidential elections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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