The University of Florida’s Graduate Program in Political Campaigning is a two-year program of study leading to a Master of Arts degree in political science, with a certificate attesting to the specialization in campaigning.

Our program is designed to provide students who want a career in politics or public service with:

  • technical skills related to strategy formation, message development and communication, resource management, polling, and other key aspects of professional politics in the 21st century;
  • an understanding of why certain actions and strategies succeed whereas others fail; and
  • a sensitivity to the democratic context of American politics, and to the notion that candidates, officeholders, and their advisers have obligations to society that extend beyond the short-term goal of winning a particular election or enacting a favorable piece of legislation.

Students in the Program take a variety of classes, involving both traditional political science (topics such as public opinion, voting and elections, political participation, survey research) as well as applied politics (campaign strategy and tactics, issue advocacy), the latter being taught by experienced professional consultants and augmented by frequent guest lectures and workshops. They also may take elective courses on such topics as political communication, data management, fundraising, speechwriting, and the policy process, and are required to complete an internship during the summer between their first and second years.

From an entering class of just two in 1985, the Political Campaigning Program today has roughly 10-12 students enrolled at any given time. Although the number of applications has risen over the years and some additional growth is anticipated in the future, it is the department’s desire that the Program remain what it has always been – a unique and highly personalized educational experience in which students receive a degree of personal attention and regular contact with instructors that they are unlikely to get at another school.

Alumni of the Program have experienced remarkable success since graduating from the University of Florida. Their ranks include, for example, U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL, formerly chair of the Democratic National Committee), former Congressman Thomas Rooney (R-FL), Florida Secretary of Agriculture Nikki Fried (D), Donna Victoria (founder and president of Victoria Research, a polling firm with clients nationwide), David Rancourt (former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Jeb Bush and founding partner of Southern Strategy Group, a lobbying firm in Tallahassee), Becca Guerra (Director, New American Majority Funds), Jay Payne (vice president of creative services for Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, a leading Washington-area media consulting firm), Jon Anderson and Scott Simpson (founders of Mad Dog Mail and Resonance Campaigns, respectively, two direct-mail firm with clients in several states), Michael Luethy (founder and president of Oak Grove Campaigns, a consulting firm operating primarily in the South), Kolby Peterson (director of polling for one of the major AFL-CIO unions), Joe Pileggi (an election consultant and formerly political director of the Republican National Congressional Committee, Elizabeth Sena (partner with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a major Washington-area polling firm) and many others.

The Political Campaigning Program is not an easy one, and we are looking for quality students. Those who succeed have an excellent opportunity to make the kinds of contacts that will help them to get started in their professional careers. Prospective students who have questions or want additional information should feel free to contact Dr. Michael Martinez at martinez@ufl.edu or Dr. Smith at dasmith@ufl.edu.

Thank you and Go Gators!

David Mica, adjunct professor and Executive Director of the Florida Petroleum Council, led a seminar in state lobbying which culminated in a trip to Tallahassee for the Political Campaigning students. The biennial trip provided the students with great insight into the inner workings of Tallahassee and how lobbying operates within the state government system.

Students were assigned an issue advocacy topic at the beginning of the course and worked in teams of four to present a sales pitch to mock clients in Tallahassee. Mica assembled a team of professional lobbyists to judge the students’ presentations and provide feedback on their work.

Following the presentations,  Mica brought the students on a tour of the State Capitol, where the students were welcomed into the House Chambers.

 

 

workshop
The annual Spring Reflections and Projections Workshop took place in January at the Hilton Hotel. There were two panels of noted academics, journalists, and political consultants that led a discussion on the implications of the 2018 election and forecasting what to expect in 2020. This workshop was a great source of information to those interested in the political world. Click here to see pictures from the event. 

To the right: Campaigning students with top Washington lobbyist and Republican strategist Charlie Black in September 2012