Professional campaign consultants, armed with computers and other sophisticated technology, are becoming increasingly important in state and local elections. The consequences for the political system of this spreading campaign “industry” are the subject of heated debate.
Political campaigns are big business these days. What was once “the largest industry in the world totally run by amateurs” has become a business dominated by outside professionals who sell their services to candidates. Armed with the latest in computer-based technology, these campaign specialists are transforming the way electoral contests are waged for offices from city council to the presidency. In the process, political professionals are carving out for themselves a large and highly profitable share of the $2 billion expected to be spent on the 1988 elections.
What is new in 1988 is the extent to which the use of consultants and other campaign specialists is filtering down through all levels of the political system. Reliance on consultants, which began as a feature of presidential and statewide races, is now almost universal among U.S. House campaigns, and is becoming ever-more common in state legislative, county and city races.