For much of our history, presidential candidates have relied on national political parties for leadership and manpower to craft their messages, to help fire up their voter base, and to get out the vote. This once meant down to earth, grassroots efforts to connect with people — writ large. The more immediate, and the simpler, the better.
During the 1860 campaign, tens of thousands of volunteers — referred to as the “Wide Awakes” — marched in torchlight parades for Abraham Lincoln, firing up citizens to vote. In 1920, Warren Harding revived the late 19th century practice of the front porch campaign. Orchestrated by state and local party leaders, thousands of individuals and organizations came to visit Harding at his home in Ohio. Harry Truman’s campaign made famous his “whistle stop” speeches, given from the back of the Ferdinand Magellan train car across more than 28,000 miles and nearly 350 stops, to cities and small towns alike.