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Political Consultant

Fritz Plasser


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A political consultant is a paid, outside advisor to candidates, political parties, or interest groups. The rise of political consultants started in the United States when Whitaker and Baxter formed Campaign Inc. in the mid-1930s, which is considered the first political consulting firm. But while in the late 1950s only roughly thirty or forty individuals acted as professional political consultants, the industry has seen tremendous overall growth since the late 1960s. Three developments contributed to this rise of the political consultancy business. The first development is the advent of nationwide television as the dominant medium of political communication. In order to cope with the structural demands of a visual and fast-paced medium, candidates and parties had to adopt the standards of a new media logic, centered on the communication skills of personalities, impression management, and the delivery of camera-ready pictures and visuals. In these days a new entrepreneurial profession entered the political marketplace: the political consultant, specialized in strategic communication, image-building, and crafting television commercials based on extensive survey research and focus groups. Second, as party loyalties have eroded and electoral volatility has risen, the traditional style of party campaigning and voter mobilization has been gradually replaced by a political marketing ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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