College Honors Program

Date of Creation


Document Type



Political Science

First Advisor

Prof. Daniel Klinghard


The modern Democratic Party operates as a broad network of actors that share campaign resources such as donors, endorsements, and personnel to collectively promote candidates that advance its policy goals. In primary campaigns, this network traditionally favors incumbent candidates and maintains high barriers for challengers without independent wealth or high-level connections. Progressive challengers within the Democratic Party—who favor a platform centered on climate justice, economic and racial equity, and systemic political reform—have run as alternatives to traditional “establishment” candidates, many of whom are incumbents. Motivated by a populist political message, these progressives have defied party norms and built momentum by creating their own network of ideologically driven campaign resources that work together to elect candidates who embody their progressive values. As this thesis establishes, campaign expenditures between progressive candidates and organizations illustrate a network of resources, which demonstrates the existence of a distinctly progressive campaign infrastructure within the party. Through their grassroots electoral strategy, this progressive network is democratizing political campaigns and building a movement toward ideological principles of justice and reform.


Departmental Honors Thesis for Political Science.