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The Use of Party Brand Labels in Congressional Election Campaigns


  • A previous version of this article was presented at the 68th Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association. The authors would like to extend their deepest thanks to Sarah Binder, Barry Burden, David Canon, Deven Carlson, John Coleman, Jason Engle, Ken Goldstein, Matt Holleque, Brad Jones, Luke Keele, Dimitri Kelly, Danielle Vinson, Amber Wichowsky, and members of the Political Behavior Research Group at UW-Madison, as well as three anonymous reviewers, for the helpful comments and suggestions they provided along the way.


In spite of the centrality of partisanship to many theories of lawmaking, and the important role that party cues play in shaping voters' evaluations of political candidates, remarkably little is known about the circumstances under which congressional candidates use partisan symbols on the campaign trail. Employing data on candidates' televised advertisements over six elections (1998–2008), the present study explores the “supply side” of partisan cues and finds that candidates are strategic about their use of party symbols. And while personal and district-level factors influence how candidates utilize partisan rhetoric, we show that the institutional context in which they campaign also matters.