Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Examining a Most Likely Case for Strong Campaign Effects: Hitler’s Speeches and the Rise of the Nazi Party, 1927–1933

  • PETER SELB (a1) and SIMON MUNZERT (a2)
Abstract

Hitler’s rise to power amidst an unprecedented propaganda campaign initiated scholarly interest in campaign effects. To the surprise of many, empirical studies often found minimal effects. The predominant focus of early work was on U.S. elections, though. Nazi propaganda as the archetypal and, in many ways, most likely case for strong effects has rarely been studied. We collect extensive data about Hitler’s speeches and gauge their impact on voter support at five national elections preceding the dictatorship. We use a semi-parametric difference-in-differences approach to estimate effects in the face of potential confounding due to the deliberate scheduling of events. Our findings suggest that Hitler’s speeches, while rationally targeted, had a negligible impact on the Nazis’ electoral fortunes. Only the 1932 presidential runoff, an election preceded by an extraordinarily short, intense, and one-sided campaign, yielded positive effects. This study questions the importance of charismatic leaders for the success of populist movements.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Peter Selb is a Professor of Survey Research, University of Konstanz, Department of Politics and Public Administration, P.O. Box 85, D-78457 Konstanz, Germany (peter.selb@uni.kn).
Simon Munzert is a Lecturer of Political Data Science, Hertie School of Governance, Friedrichstr. 180, D-10117 Berlin, Germany (munzert@hertie-school.org).
Footnotes
Hide All

We are grateful to Johannes Häussler and Sascha Göbel for their superb research assistance; Fred Hockney for his proof-reading and language editing; Birgit Jacob and Hannah Laumann for their editing; Christian Spinner, who sounded out the terrain in his Bachelor’s thesis; Jürgen W. Falter, Jonas Meßner, Dieter Ohr, and Paul Thurner, who provided their data; the participants of the research colloquium of the Graduate School of Decision Sciences at the University of Konstanz; the panel on media and politics at the EPSA Conference 2016 in Brussels; Alexander De Juan, Thomas Gschwend, Moritz Marbach, and the reviewers for valuable comments; and the responsible editor for his enduring support during a long and controversial review process. Replication files are available at the American Political Science Review Dataverse: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/3KOQWQ.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Abadie, Alberto. 2005. “Semiparametric Difference-in-Differences Estimators.” Review of Economic Studies 72 (1): 119.
Abel, Theodore. 1965. The Nazi Movement. New York: Atherton Press.
Adena, Maja, Enikolopov, Ruben, Petrova, Maria, Santarosa, Veronica, and Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina. 2015. “Radio and the Rise of the Nazis in Prewar Germany.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 130 (4): 1885–939.
Allen, William S. 1984. The Nazi Seizure of Power. The Experience of a Single German Town 1992-1945. New York: Penguin.
Almond, Gabriel Abraham, and Verba, Sidney. 1963. The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Althaus, Scott L., Nardulli, Peter F., and Shaw, Daron R.. 2002. “Candidate Appearances in Presidential Elections, 1972–2000.” Political Communication 19 (1): 4972.
Angrist, Joshua D., Imbens, Guido W., and Rubin, Donald B.. 1996. “Identification of Causal Effects Using Instrumental Variables.” Journal of the American Statistical Association 91 (434): 444–55.
Anheier, Helmut K. 2003. “Movement Development and Organizational Networks: The Role of ‘Single Members’ in the German Nazi Party, 1925–30.” In Social movements and Networks. Relational Approaches to Collective Action, eds. Diani, Mario and McAdam, Doug. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 4976.
Anheier, Helmut K., Neidhardt, Friedhelm, and Vortkamp, Wolfgang. 1998. “Movement Cycles and the Nazi Party Activities of the Munich NSDAP, 1925–1930.” American Behavioral Scientist 41 (9): 1262–81.
Bartels, Larry M. 1985. “Resource Allocation in a Presidential Campaign.” Journal of Politics 47 (3): 928–36.
Bartels, Larry M. 1993. “Messages Received: The Political Impact of Media Exposure.” American Political Science Review 87 (2): 267–85.
Bennett, W. Lance, and Iyengar, Shanto. 2008. “A New Era of Minimal Effects? The Changing Foundations of Political Communication.” Journal of Communication 58 (4): 707–31.
Berelson, Bernard R., Lazarsfeld, Paul F., and McPhee, William N.. 1954. Voting: A Study of Opinion Formation in a Presidential Election. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Blackwell, Matthew. 2013. “A Framework for Dynamic Causal Inference in Political Science.” American Journal of Political Science 57 (2): 504–20.
Brams, Steven J., and Davis, Morton D.. 1974. “The 3/2’s Rule in Presidential Campaigning.” American Political Science Review 68 (1): 113–34.
Bruppacher, Paul. 2012. Adolf Hitler und die Geschichte der NSDAP. Teil 1: 1889 bis 1937. 3rd ed. Norderstedt: Books on Demand.
Brustein, William. 1998. The Logic of Evil. The Social Origins of the Nazi Party, 1925–1933. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Bytwerk, Randall L. 1981. “Fritz Reinhardt and the Rednerschule der NSDAP.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 67 (3): 298309.
Caliendo, Marco, and Kopeinig, Sabine. 2008. “Some Practical Guidance for the Implementation of Propensity Score Matching.” Journal of Economic Surveys 22 (1): 3172.
Campbell, James E. 2008. The American Campaign. U.S. Presidential Campaigns and the National Vote (2nd ed.). College Station: Texas A&M University Press.
Campbell, Angus, Converse, Philip E., and Miller, Warren E.. 1960. The American Voter. New York: Wiley.
Childers, Thomas, and Weiss, Eugene. 1990. “Voters and Violence. Political Violence and the Limits of National Socialist Mass Mobilization.” German Studies Review 13 (3): 481–98.
Ciolek-Kümper, Jutta. 1976. Wahlkampf in Lippe. München: Verlag Dokumentation.
Colantoni, Claude S., Levesque, Terrence J., and Ordeshook, Peter C.. 1975. “Campaign Resource Allocations Under the Electoral College.” American Political Science Review 69 (1): 141–54.
Collier, Rex Madison. 1944. “The Effect of Propaganda Upon Attitude Following a Critical Examination of the Propaganda Itself.” The Journal of Social Psychology 20 (1): 317.
Cox, Gary W. 1999. “Electoral Rules and the Calculus of Mobilization.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 24 (3): 387419.
Domarus, Max. 1973. Hitler. Reden und Proklamationen, 1932–1945. Wiesbaden: Löwit.
Eatwell, Roger. 2000. “The Rebirth of the ‘Extreme Right’ in Western Europe?Parliamentary Affairs 53 (3): 407–25.
Evans, Richard J. 2005. The Coming of the Third Reich. New York: Penguin.
Falter, Jürgen W. 1991. Hitlers Wähler. München: C.H. Beck.
Falter, Jürgen W., and Hänisch, Dirk. 1990. “Election and Social Data of the Districts and Municipalities of the German Empire from 1920 to 1933.” GESIS Data Archive, Cologne. ZA8013 Data file Version 1.0.0. URL: https://doi.org/10.4232/1.8013.
Falter, Jürgen W., and Kater, Michael H.. 1993. “Wähler und Mitglieder der NSDAP. Neue Forschungsergebnisse zur Soziographie des Nationalsozialismus 1925–1933.” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 19 (2): 155–77.
Faucheux, Ronald A. 2002. Running for Office. The Strategies, Techniques, and Messages Modern Political Candidates Need to Win Elections. Lanham: M. Evans.
Finkel, Steven E. 1993. “Reexamining the “Minimal Effects” Model in Recent Presidential Campaigns.” Journal of Politics 55 (1): 121.
Flint, Colin. 2000. “Electoral Geography and the Social Construction of Space: The Example of the Nazi Party in Baden, 1924–1932.” GeoJournal 51 (3): 145–56.
Führer, Karl Christian. 2008. “Politische Kultur und Journalismus: Tageszeitungen als politische Akteure in der Krise der Weimarer Republik 1929–1933.” Jahrbuch für Kommunikationsgeschichte 10: 2651.
Gelman, Andrew, and King, Gary. 1993. “Why Are American Presidential Election Campaign Polls so Variable When Votes Are so Predictable?British Journal of Political Science 23 (4): 409–51.
Gerber, Alan S., and Green, Donald P.. 2000. “The Effects of Canvassing, Telephone Calls, and Direct Mail on Voter Turnout. A Field Experiment.” American Political Science Review 94 (3): 653–63.
Goebbels, Joseph. 1992. Tagebücher 1924–1945. München: Piper.
Goldstein, Kenneth M., and Holleque, Matthew. 2010. “Getting Up Off the Canvass. Rethinking the Study of Mobilization.” In The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior, ed. Leighley, Jan E.. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 577–94.
Google Inc. 2015. “Google Maps API.” URL: https://developers.google.com/maps/
Grofman, Bernard, and Selb, Peter. 2009. “A Fully General Index of Political Competition.” Electoral Studies 28 (2): 291–6.
Hadamovsky, Eugen. 1933. Propaganda und nationale Macht. Die Organisation der öffentlichen Meinung für die Nationale Politik. Oldenburg: Gerhard Stalling.
Hänisch, Dirk. 1989. “Inhalt und Struktur der Datenbank ‘Wahl- und Sozialdaten der Kreise und Gemeinden des Deutschen Reiches von 1920 bis 1933’.” Historical Social Research 14 (1): 3967.
Heberle, Rudolf. 1978. Bestimmungsgründe für die Wahlerfolge der NSDAP in Schleswig-Holstein 1924 bis 1932. In Wählerbewegung in der deutschen Geschichte. Analysen und Berichte zu den Reichstagswahlen 1871–1931, eds. Büsch, Otto, Wölk, Monika and Wölk, Wolfgang, 261–97.
Heckman, J. J., Ichimura, H., and Todd, P. E.. 1997. “Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme.” The Review of Economic Studies 64 (4): 605–54.
Herr, Paul J. 2002. “The Impact of Campaign Appearances in the 1996 Election.” Journal of Politics 64 (3): 904–13.
Hill, Jeffrey S., Rodriquez, Elaine, and Wooden, Amanda E.. 2010. “Stump Speeches and Road Trips. The Impact of State Campaign Appearances in Presidential Elections.” Political Science and Politics 43 (2): 243–54.
Hillygus, D. Sunshine. 2010. “Campaign Effects on Vote Choice.” In Oxford Handbook on Elections and Political Behavior, eds. Leighly, Jan and Edwards III, George C.. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 326–45.
Hitler, Adolf. 1992. Hitler. Reden, Schriften, Anordnungen. Vom Weimarer Parteitag bis zur Reichstagswahl. Juli 1926–Mai 1928, Vol. 2.1. München: K.G. Saur.
Hitler, Adolf. 1994 a. Hitler. Reden, Schriften, Anordnungen. Von der Reichstagswahl bis zur Reichspräsidentenwahl. Oktober 1930–Mr̎z 1932, Vol. 4.1. München: K.G. Saur.
Hitler, Adolf. 1994 b. Hitler. Reden, Schriften, Anordnungen. Zwischen den Reichstagswahlen. Juli 1928–September 1930, Vol. 3.1. München: K.G. Saur.
Hitler, Adolf. 1994 c. Hitler. Reden, Schriften, Anordnungen. Zwischen den Reichstagswahlen. Juli 1928–September 1930, Vol. 3.2. München: K.G. Saur.
Hitler, Adolf. 1995. Hitler. Reden, Schriften, Anordnungen. Zwischen den Reichstagswahlen. Juli 1928–September 1930 Vol. 3.3. München: K.G. Saur.
Hitler, Adolf. 1996. Hitler. Reden, Schriften, Anordnungen.Von der Reichspräsidentenwahl bis zur Machtergreifung. April 1932–Januar 1933, Vol. 5.1. München: K.G. Saur.
Hitler, Adolf. 1997. Hitler. Reden, Schriften, Anordnungen. Von der Reichstagswahl bis zur Reichspräsidentenwahl. Oktober 1930–März 1932, Vol. 4.3. München: K.G. Saur.
Hitler, Adolf. 1998. Hitler. Reden, Schriften, Anordnungen. Von der Reichspräsidentenwahl bis zur Machtergreifung. April 1932–Januar 1933, Vol. 5.2. München: K.G. Saur.
Holbrook, Thomas M. 2002. “Did the Whistle-Stop Campaign Matter?Political Science and Politics 35 (1): 5966.
Holland, Paul W. 1986. “Statistics and Causal Inference.” Journal of the American Statistical Association 81 (396): 945–60.
Huber, Gregory A., and Arceneaux, Kevin. 2007. “Identifying the Persuasive Effects of Presidential Advertising.” American Journal of Political Science 51 (4): 957–77.
Imbens, Guido W. 2000. “The Role of the Propensity Score in Estimating Dose-Response Functions.” Biometrika 87 (3): 706–10.
Iyengar, Shanto, and Kinder, Donald R.. 1987. News that Matters. Television and American Opinion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Iyengar, Shanto, and Simon, Adam F.. 2000. “New Perspectives and Evidence on Political Communication and Campaign Effects.” Annual Review of Psychology 51: 149–69.
Janssen, Karl-Heinz. 1985. “Kümmerliche Notizen. Rauschnings ‘Gespräche mit Hitler’: Wie ein Schweizer Lehrer nach 45 Jahren einen Schwindel auffliegen ließ.” URL: http://www.zeit.de/1985/30/kuemmerliche-notizen, retrieval July 13, 2018.
Johnston, Richard, Blais, André, Brady, Henry E., and Crête, Jean. 1992. Letting the People Decide. The Dynamics of Canadian Elections. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Jones, Jeffrey M. 1998. “Does Bringing out the Candidate Bring Out the Votes? The Effects of Nominee Campaigning in Presidential Elections.” American Politics Quarterly 26 (4): 395419.
Kater, Michael H. 1980. “Methodologische Überlegungen über Möglichkeiten und Grenzen einer Analyse der sozialen Zusammensetzung der NSDAP von 1925–1945.” In Die Nationalsozialisten. Analysen faschistischer Bewegung, ed. Mann, Reinhard. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 155–85.
Katz, Elihu, and Lazarsfeld, Paul. 1955. Personal Influence: The Part Played by People in the Flow of Mass Communications. New York: The Free Press.
Kelley, Stanley. 1961. “The Presidential Campaign.” In The Presidential Election and Transition, 1960–1961: Brookings Lectures and Additional Papers, ed. David, Paul T.. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution, 5787.
Kershaw, Ian. 2014. How Effective Was Nazi Propaganda? In Nazi Propaganda. The Power and Limitations, ed. Welch, David. London: Routledge, 180205.
King, David C., and Morehouse, David. 2004. “Moving Voters in the 2000 Presidential Campaign. Local Visits, Local Media.” In Lights, Camera, Campaign! Media, Politics and Political Advertising, ed. Schultz, David A.. New York: Peter Lang, 301–18.
King, Gary, Rosen, Ori, Tanner, Martin, and Wagner, Alexander F.. 2008. “Ordinary Economic Voting Behavior in the Extraordinary Election of Adolf Hitler.” Journal of Economic History 68 (4): 951–96.
Kitschelt, Herbert, and McGann, Anthony J.. 1997. The Radical Right in Western Europe: A Comparative Analysis. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Klapper, Joseph T. 1960. The Effects of Mass Communication. Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press.
Layton, Roland V. 1970. “The Völkischer Beobachter, 1920–1930: The Nazi Party Newspaper in the Weimar Era.” Central European History 3 (4): 353–82.
Lazarsfeld, Paul F., Berelson, Bernard, and Gaudet, Hazel. 1948. The People’s Choice. How the Voter Makes up his Mind in a Presidential Campaign. New York: Columbia University Press.
Mény, Yves, and Surel, Yves. 2002. The Constitutive Ambiguity of Populism. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Myerson, Roger B. 2004. “Political Economics and the Weimar Disaster.” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 160 (2): 187209.
Oakes, J. Michael. 2004. “The (mis-)estimation of Neighborhood Effects: Causal Inference for a Practicable Social Epidemiology.” Social Science & Medicine 58 (10): 1929–52.
Ohr, Dieter. 1997. Nationalsozialistische Propaganda und Weimarer Wahlen. Empirische Analysen zur Wirkung von NSDAP-Versammlungen. Wiesbaden: Springer.
O’Loughlin, John, Flint, Colin, and Anselin, Luc. 1994. “The Geography of the Nazi Vote. Context, Confession, and Class in the Reichstag Election of 1930.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 84 (3): 351–80.
O’Loughlin, John, and Shin, Michael. 1995. “Regions and Milieux in Weimar Germany. The Nazi Party Vote of 1930 in Geographic Perspective.” Erdkunde 49 (4): 305–14.
Paul, Gerhard. 1990. Aufstand der Bilder. Die NS-Propaganda vor 1933. Bonn: J.H.W. Dietz Nachf.
Plöckinger, Othmar. 1999. Reden um die Macht? Wirkung und Strategie der Reden Adolf Hitlers im Wahlkampf zu den Reichstagswahlen am 6. November 1932. Wien: Passagen.
Popkin, Samuel L. 1991. The Reasoning Voter: Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pridham, Geoffrey. 1973. Hitler’s Rise to Power: The Nazi Movement in Bavaria, 1923–1933. London: Hart-Davis, MacGibbon.
Pyta, Wolfram. 2007. Hindenburg. München: Siedler.
Rauschning, Hermann. 1939. Hitler Speaks. A Series of Political Conversations with Adolf Hitler on His Real Aims. London: Thornton Butterworth.
Reuband, Karl-Heinz. 2006. “Das NS-Regime zwischen Akzeptanz und Ablehnung. Eine retrospektive Analyse von Bevölkerungseinstellungen im Dritten Reich auf der Basis von Umfragedaten (The Nazi Regime between Acceptance and Refusal. A Retrospective Analysis of Popular Opinion in the Third Reich, Based on Survey Data).” Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 315–43.
Ridgeway, Greg, Kovalchik, Stephanie A., Griffin, Beth A., and Kabeto, Mohammed U.. 2015. “Propensity Score Analysis with Survey Weighted Data.” Journal of Causal Inference 3 (2): 237–49.
Robins, James M., Hernán, Miguel Angel, and Brumback, Babette. 2000. “Marginal Structural Models and Causal Inference in Epidemiology.” Epidemiology 11 (5): 550–60.
Rösch, Mathias. 2002. Die Münchner NSDAP 1925-1933: Eine Untersuchung zur inneren Struktur der NSDAP in der Weimarer Republik. München: Oldenbourg.
Rosenstone, Steven J., and Hansen, John Mark. 1993. Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America. London: Macmillan.
Rubin, Donald B. 1980. “Randomization Analysis of Experimental Data. The Fisher Randomization Test: Comment.” Journal of the American Statistical Association 75 (371): 591–3.
Schanbacher, Eberhard. 1982. Parlamentarische Wahlen und Wahlsystem in der Weimarer Republik. Wahlgesetzgebung und Wahlreform im Reich und in den Ländern. Düsseldorf: Droste.
Schneider-Haase, D. Torsten. 1991. “Beschreibung der Stichprobenziehung zu den Mitgliedern der NSDAP vom 27. März - 7. September 1989 im Berlin Document Center.” Historical Social Research 16 (3): 113–51.
Sellers, Patrick J., and Denton, Laura M.. 2006. “Presidential Visits and Midterm Senate Elections.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 36 (3): 410–32.
Shaw, Daron R., and Gimpel, James G.. 2012. “What If We Randomize the Governor’s Schedule? Evidence on Campaign Appearance Effects from a Texas Field Experiment.” Political Communication 29 (2): 137–59.
Shively, W. Phillips. 1972. “Party Identification, Party Choice, and Voting Stability: the Weimar Case.” American Political Science Review 66 (4): 1203–25.
Shugart, Matthew S., and Carey, John M.. 1992. Presidents and Assemblies. Constitutional Design and Electoral Dynamics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Stachura, Peter D. 1980. “The Political Strategy of the Nazi Party, 1919–1933.” German Studies Review 3 (2): 261–88.
Thurner, Paul W., Klima, André, and Küchenhoff, Helmut. 2015. “Agricultural Structure and the Rise of the Nazi Party Reconsidered.” Political Geography 44: 5063.
van der Brug, Wouter, and Mughan, Anthony. 2007. “Charisma, Leader Effects and Support for Right-Wing Populist Parties.” Party Politics 13 (1): 2951.
Vavreck, Lynn, Spiliotes, Constantine J., and Fowler, Linda L.. 2002. “The Effects of Retail Politics in the New Hampshire Primary.” American Journal of Political Science 46 (3): 595610.
Voigtländer, Nico, and Voth, Hans-Joachim. 2014. “Highway to Hitler.” NBER Working Paper No. 20150.
Voigtländer, Nico, and Voth, Hans-Joachim. 2015. “Nazi Indoctrination and Anti-Semitic Beliefs in Germany.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112 (26): 7931–6.
Wakefield, Jonathan. 2004. “A Critique of Statistical Aspects of Ecological Studies in Spatial Epidemiology.” Environmental and Ecological Statistics 11 (1): 3154.
Watt, James H., Mazza, Mary, and Snyder, Leslie. 1993. “Agenda-Setting Effects of Television News Coverage and the Effects Decay Curve.” Communication Research 20 (3): 408–35.
Wernette, Dee R. 1974. “Political Violence and German Elections: 1930 and July, 1932.” Dissertation, University of Michigan.
Willner, Ann Ruth. 1985. The Spellbinders: Charismatic Political Leadership. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Zaller, John. 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Selb and Munzert Dataset
Dataset

 Unknown
PDF
Supplementary materials

Selb and Munzert supplementary material
Appendix

 PDF (7.9 MB)
7.9 MB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed