Polls and Elections: Revisiting Midterm Visits: Why the Type of Visit Matters


Matthew Lang is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Houston.

Brandon Rottinghaus is an associate professor at the University of Houston. His research interests include the presidency, executive-legislative relations, and public opinion.

Gerhard Peters is the codirector of The American Presidency Project and a professor of political science at Citrus College.


In this article, we reassess the findings of where presidents visit during midterm elections from 1954 to 2010, with data that, for the first time, segments presidential visits into “rallies,” fundraisers, and “virtual” campaigning. On one hand, our findings reflect what others have found—when aggregating all visits together, the total Electoral College votes and the previous state-level winning percentage of the president in the state affect the probability of a visit by the president. However, presidents are more likely to visit states for a “rally” when they are more popular, and the number of competitive races in the state is greater. Presidents are more likely to host a fundraiser in a state when the number of Electoral College votes is higher but are less likely to visit when there are fewer competitive races. The results suggest that there is value in knowing the purpose for which a president visited a state in a midterm election.