Front porch campaign

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Clifford Berryman's cartoon depiction of Eugene V. Debs' campaign from prison satirizes Harding's front porch campaign in the Election of 1920.

A front porch campaign is a low-key electoral campaign used in American politics in which the candidate remains close to or at home to make speeches to supporters who come to visit.[1] The candidate largely does not travel around or otherwise actively campaign.[2] The successful presidential campaigns of James A. Garfield in 1880, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and William McKinley in 1896 are perhaps the best-known front porch campaigns.

McKinley's opposing candidate, William Jennings Bryan, gave over 600 speeches and traveled many miles all over the United States to campaign, but McKinley outdid this by spending about twice as much money campaigning. While McKinley was at his Canton, Ohio, home conducting his "front-porch campaign", Mark Hanna was out raising millions to help with the campaign.

Another president that has been known for his front porch campaign was Warren G. Harding during the presidential election of 1920.

In 2020, Joe Biden's presidential campaign shifted to a front-porch style during the summer. He used videoconferencing technology to fundraise and speak to supporters and the media from his home in Delaware during the COVID-19 pandemic given the imposition of stay at home orders (including in the candidate's home state)[3] and that rallies were impractical and a public health hazard due to social distancing guidelines.[4][5]

McKinley campaign[edit]

Image of a delegation visiting Republican presidential candidate William McKinley in Canton, Ohio, October 1896

Throughout the course of the 1896 United States presidential election, William McKinley spoke to more than 700,000 supporters in front of his house in Canton.[6] These speeches started as organized meetings between McKinley and delegations from all over the nation. Although it was expensive for the campaign to bring these delegations, all in all, this idea became a good strategy because of the publicity it generated. In addition, due to the fact that McKinley's campaign chose those who would travel as part of the delegation, it was possible to make those who spoke portray McKinley positively.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dolan, Michael. "Porch Politics: Candidates Stayed Home to Campaign". brought by Historynet LLC. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  2. ^ "Front-Porch Campaign.", n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2012.
  3. ^ Garrison, Joey. "Biden in the basement: Can campaigning from home work as Trump starts to travel?". USA TODAY.
  4. ^ "Joe Biden takes his campaign to the digital front porch as coronavirus throws up new obstacles for Democrats" – via The Globe and Mail.
  5. ^ Shafer, Ronald G. "Biden campaigns from his basement. Harding ran for president from his porch". Washington Post.
  6. ^ "Marker #17-76 William McKinley." Remarkable Ohio. The Ohio Historical Society, 2003. Web. 14 Dec. 2012.
  7. ^ "#25: William McKinley: The Front Porch Campaign. N.p." February 26, 2012. Retrieved December 14, 2012.

External links[edit]