County Chairs Speak Out: How Mississippi’s County Party Organizations Connect with Voters

Waller, Phillip C. (2015) County Chairs Speak Out: How Mississippi’s County Party Organizations Connect with Voters. Undergraduate thesis, under the direction of Melissa Bass from Public Policy Leadership, The University of Mississippi.


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This paper includes the results of a qualitative study of 11 Mississippi county party chairs interviewed about their role in the state and how that role has been affected by redistricting. I highlight their comments on their perceived roles, organizational purpose, voter outreach strategies, competition, voter turnout and state and county relationships. Though I started my project hoping to focus on the effects of redistricting on county party organizations’ outreach to voters, only 3 of the 11 county chairs I interviewed significantly changed their actions after the 2011 redistricting cycle. The only county chairs who mentioned major changes in their operations were ones that saw their entire county switch from a Republican controlled U.S. House District to the state’s only majority minority Democratic U.S. House District. For the Democrat I interviewed, the changes had a positive impact on his efficacy and connection to his representative. For the two Republican chairs I interviewed, the effect was a loss of power, efficacy and connection to their representative. Successful county party organizations recognized their strengths and targeted races that were winnable with a focus on word of mouth communication, quality candidates, clean competition and extensive voter education, both formal and informal. Chairs engaged their communities through their organizations, making use of the existing social networks to connect in a “pyramid” hierarchy of county party chairs, executive committee members, precinct representatives, church and community leaders and voters. All county party chairs I interviewed could benefit from more state party support in the form of increased resources, carefully crafted strategy and continued training for new or struggling county party members.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Creators: Waller, Phillip C.
Student's Degree Program(s): Public Policy Leadership, Journalism
Thesis Advisor: Melissa Bass
Thesis Advisor's Department: Public Policy Leadership
Institution: The University of Mississippi
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
Depositing User: Phillip C. Waller
Date Deposited: 12 May 2015 18:12
Last Modified: 12 May 2015 18:12

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