In research on political campaign communication, it is often assumed that campaign strategies and tactics are highly important for explaining election outcomes. In contrast, most research in political science tends to emphasize the importance of political substance, long-term factors such as party identification, and real-world conditions for explaining election outcomes.
Although political parties in practice treat election campaigns as highly important and consequential, there is virtually no research on how party elites perceive the importance of campaign strategies and tactics when explaining election outcomes. Hence, drawing on a survey among Swedish members of parliament, this study investigates party elite perceptions of what matters when people decide which party to vote for and of what matters when explaining election outcomes. In brief, the results show that members of parliament perceive campaign strategies and tactics as significantly less important than the substance of politics. In the concluding analysis, the implications of the results are analyzed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.