Fear of the Political Consultant:Campaign Professionals and New Technology in Norwegian Electoral Politics
AbstractIn the digital age it is claimed that political parties do not have the capacity to deliver the advanced technical services that modern campaigning demands, and that much of the campaign work is better handled by political consultants. Based on the ‘hybridization’ view of campaign change, the article explores to what extent ICTs increase the need for campaign professionals, and what type of professional the technology creates a demand for. A typology of four types of campaign professionals is developed and applied to the Norwegian case. The article finds that in-house professionals are involved concerning both technical and strategy assistance, while external campaign professionals are mostly involved concerning technical assistance. The external campaign professional is a generalist specializing in his or her field, not in political communication. The in-house campaign professional seems more of a political specialist, trusted to play a role in developing campaign strategy. Parties approach the increasing prominence of ICTs in campaigning based on these existing practices: expertise is integrated in the party organization while at the same time external professionals are used for technical assistance.