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Foregoing the Party Label

- October 5, 2010

David Chen in “the NY Times”:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/05/nyregion/05dems.html:

bq. One New York Democrat proclaims that he proudly opposed the federal government’s health care overhaul plan. Another one pledges, in the finest Tea Party spirit, to oppose any future financial bailouts. Still another has rolled out three Republicans in three separate commercials, all vouching for his credentials.

bq. But there is one word you will not hear mentioned in any of these campaign advertisements: Democrat.

The piece is more broadly about whether Democrats are “running away from” their party, its leaders, and its accomplishments. But let’s get one thing straight: only the minority of candidates mentions their party in television advertisements — period. Here is “one study”:http://web.me.com/vavreck/Lynn_Vavreck/Publications_files/ReasoningCand.pdf (pdf) from Lynn Vavreck, which found that only one-third of 290 candidates in 1998 mentioned a party label verbally or included it in writing.

I also pulled up a dataset that contains about 935,000 airings of individual candidate advertisements in the 2002 midterm. The vast, vast majority of these airings — 90% in all — did not mention the party of either candidate.

Whatever the party-denying strategies of some Democrats in this year, the mere failure to mention their party is nothing extraordinary or unusual.