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Has the "New Style" of Judicial Campaigning Reached Lower Court Elections?

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 93 Issue: 4 Dated: January-February 2010 Pages: 150-160
Brian K. Arbour; Mark J. McKenzie
Date Published
January 2010
11 pages
This article examines whether the "new style" of judicial campaigning has reached the campaigns of lower level court offices, or if "old school" friends and family campaigning is still the norm.
Lower court campaigns have historically been low profile, friends and neighbors affairs. However, in the 1980s, a "new style" of campaigning was observed, particularly in State supreme court elections. "New style" campaigning, officially identified in 1992, notes how State supreme court campaigns use large scale efforts to reach the voters and emphasize substantive issues in their appeals. This new style may have filtered down to lower courts, since lower court candidates can learn from and adopt the tactics of more professionalized and higher profile supreme court races. However, little to no investigation of lower court races has been done to investigate this possibility. In 2008, a survey was mailed to candidates in six states: Illinois, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington to examine local judicial candidates' campaign organizations and messaging. The findings show that, at least in these six states, the "new style" of campaigning has not reached lower court races. Lower court campaigns remain low key friends-and-family affairs. 3 tables, 6 figures, and 44 notes