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Campaign Innovation on the Demand Side: Theory and Evidence from Europe
Unformatted Document Text:  That considerations of efficiency would affect campaigners’ thinking about the adoption of new techniques or approaches is in no way surprising. If it’s too expensive (given our budget), or if our laws forbid it, or if the nature of our political system makes it tactically counterproductive, or if the audience we’re attempting to win over wouldn’t respond to it – well, we won’t do it. This makes immediate sense. What is much more interesting is the possibility that concerns of efficiency might not exhaust the motivations that affect campaigners’ borrowing from elsewhere. Campaign decision-makers, in Europe no less than in America, are seeking to win elections, and they make fundamentally reasonable decisions about how to proceed and why. What other than efficiency might influence them in their choices? Here, I argue that two further sets of considerations must be taken into account: those relating to the ‘fit’ of a technique with the adopting country’s political culture, and those relating to the consequences of a technique for the organization of the campaign itself. Considerations of appropriateness The second set of concerns that motivate campaign decision-makers as they consider the adoption of new approaches from overseas I refer to as considerations of appropriateness. Although appropriateness and efficiency are not strictly separable, I think the distinction between the two is worth making. In this case, the bottom-line consideration has to do not with impact but with fit: Will this approach be accepted in my country, and in my political party? Is it – and will others consider it – appropriate to the political culture and context in which I intended to deploy it? In other words, campaigners also name cultural factors, or cultural barriers, in thinking about the varying degrees of Americanization in their campaigns, and such barriers can be influential even where the use-value of a technique may not be at issue. Considerations of 12

Authors: Smith, Jennifer.
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That considerations of efficiency would affect campaigners’ thinking about the adoption
of new techniques or approaches is in no way surprising. If it’s too expensive (given our
budget), or if our laws forbid it, or if the nature of our political system makes it tactically
counterproductive, or if the audience we’re attempting to win over wouldn’t respond to it – well,
we won’t do it. This makes immediate sense. What is much more interesting is the possibility
that concerns of efficiency might not exhaust the motivations that affect campaigners’ borrowing
from elsewhere. Campaign decision-makers, in Europe no less than in America, are seeking to
win elections, and they make fundamentally reasonable decisions about how to proceed and why.
What other than efficiency might influence them in their choices? Here, I argue that two further
sets of considerations must be taken into account: those relating to the ‘fit’ of a technique with
the adopting country’s political culture, and those relating to the consequences of a technique for
the organization of the campaign itself.
Considerations of appropriateness
The second set of concerns that motivate campaign decision-makers as they consider the
adoption of new approaches from overseas I refer to as considerations of appropriateness.
Although appropriateness and efficiency are not strictly separable, I think the distinction between
the two is worth making. In this case, the bottom-line consideration has to do not with impact
but with fit: Will this approach be accepted in my country, and in my political party? Is it – and
will others consider it – appropriate to the political culture and context in which I intended to
deploy it? In other words, campaigners also name cultural factors, or cultural barriers, in
thinking about the varying degrees of Americanization in their campaigns, and such barriers can
be influential even where the use-value of a technique may not be at issue. Considerations of
12


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