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What are Campaigns For?The Role of Persuasion in Electoral Law and Politics$
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James A. Gardner

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195392616

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195392616.001.0001

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Election Law and the Formation of Public Opinion

Election Law and the Formation of Public Opinion

(p.45) Two Election Law and the Formation of Public Opinion
What are Campaigns For?

James A. Gardner

Oxford University Press

Although the American constitutional regime pays emphatic lip service to the ideal of reasoned persuasion in elections, its actual institutional arrangements in fact presuppose just the opposite—election campaigns that are thin rather than thick, aggregative rather than persuasive. In social science terminology, American constitutional law rests on the presupposition that public opinion is exogenous to political campaigns rather than endogenous to them. As a result, the legal structure of American politics is weighted heavily toward the premise that the central purpose of an election campaign is not to provide a forum in which citizens can reflect upon and arrive at sound political opinions, but rather is simply to tabulate as accurately as possible the opinions that citizens already hold at the inception of the campaign. This proposition is developed through examination of the constitutional rules governing ballot access, campaign finance, and party association.

Keywords:   campaigns, election law, ballot access, campaign finance, party association, deliberation, persuasion

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