So, I was just flipping through my journal RSS feeds & ran into an interesting article from the last issue of Political Communication. The article (by Shaw & Gimpel) describes the results of a really interesting field experiment that studies the effects of campaign appearances.
In their words:
We seek to pinpoint the magnitude and nature of candidate appearance effects across these different dimensions. The central feature of our project is a major statewide field experiment conducted in the midst of the 2006 gubernatorial campaign in Texas. Incumbent Republican governor Rick Perry allowed us to randomly select the location of his campaign visits for 3 full days, while his polling, fundraising, and organization teams agreed to provide us with detailed information on critical metrics of voter support, financial contributions, and volunteer sign-ups. We also gathered information from local television stations and newspapers to address the role of media coverage of campaign events. To our knowledge, this is the first field experiment conducted in a statewide partisan election with the full cooperation of a major party candidate. As such, we believe it provides a unique and
thought-provoking estimation of appearance effects.
Can you believe this? Rick Perry, in the midst of a real-life gubernatorial campaign, let academics randomly run his campaign visits for 3 days! This is fantastic! Now, I love this choice because it’s a risk and, who knows, it may give Perry an idea about whether or not his events have an effect. This could be a tiny advantage in the contest — and it came without any real $$ cost, right? Plus, as an academic, it suggests that Perry is less anti-intellectual than I expected. And, it stroked my little (big?) academic ego: I might really matter, after all!
But still! This is so crazy! Heck, why not just run an entire campaign via darts & the Texas map next time? Or, when running for president, why campaign in Iowa or NH if the darts take you to Montana and Alabama?