Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Malte Dold

Reader 2

John Seery


This thesis will attempt to determine the optimal election strategy for the Democratic nominee in the upcoming presidential election. As it currently stands, there are two primary schools of thought about the Democratic election strategy among political scientists and strategists, both of which are often framed as mutually exclusive. According to one theory, the Democratic candidate/campaign should prioritize persuasion and target undecided voters to garner their support. Policies such as the expansion of the Affordable Care Act and modest income tax increases on the wealthy are examples of policies that are often designed to garner support among undecided voters. The alternate theory relies instead on mobilizing/energizing the racially and culturally diverse, progressive base of the party. My thesis will entail a reconciliation of the two diverging election strategies and a general messaging framework based on specific campaign issues, i.e. healthcare and immigration. Although the advocates of both persuasion and base appeal often argue that the two are mutually exclusive, there may be a way to employ the strategies in different contexts with respect to different policies. In the end, regardless of the nominee, Democrats will face a stern test against a formidable incumbent President.