Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors Paper


Political Science

First Advisor

N. Scott Cole, Ph.D.


The 2008 congressional election for the Fifth District of Virginia was unique for many reasons. It is exceptional that a relatively unknown challenger was able to take on an entrenched incumbent and succeed in defeating him, breaking the trend of incumbent victory seen in almost all House of Representative elections. This research demonstrates that the Perriello campaign's ability to create an effective grassroots network was a significant factor in determining the out come of the election. Through a detailed examination of the activities, personnel, and fundraising tactics that Perriello campaign made use of, this research found that Perriello's victory was influenced by a successful grassroots campaign. This finding is significant because it highlights a case where a challenger was able to overthrow an incumbent without a major political scandal being involved.



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