Synopses & Reviews
There are two winners in every presidential election campaign: The inevitable winner when it begins — such as Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton in 2008 — and the inevitable victor after it ends. In The Candidate
, Samuel Popkin explains the difference between them.
While plenty of political insiders have written about specific campaigns, only Popkin — drawing on a lifetime of presidential campaign experience and extensive research — analyzes what it takes to win the next campaign. The road to the White House is littered with geniuses of campaigns past. Why doesn't practice make perfect? Why is experience such a poor teacher? Why are the same mistakes replayed again and again?
Based on detailed analyses of the winners — and losers — of the last 60 years of presidential campaigns, Popkin explains how challengers get to the White House, how incumbents stay there for a second term, and how successors hold power for their party. He looks in particular at three campaigns — George H.W. Bush's muddled campaign for reelection in 1992, Al Gore's flawed campaign for the presidency in 2000, and Hillary Clinton's mismanaged effort to win the nomination in 2008 — and uncovers the lessons that Ronald Reagan can teach future candidates about teamwork. Throughout, Popkin illuminates the intricacies of presidential campaigns — the small details and the big picture, the surprising mistakes and the predictable miscues — in a riveting account of what goes on inside a campaign and what makes one succeed while another fails.
A vision for the future and the audacity to run are only the first steps in a candidate's run for office. Presidential hopefuls can survive the most grueling show on earth only if they understand the critical factors that Popkin reveals in The Candidate.
"All political junkies should have this book next to the TV remote so they can watch Popkin's ideas play out in real time during this campaign season and the general election. Too bad for the GOP candidates that they can't read this book until May. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"No one I know has more closely studied the link between the minds of voters and the machinery of Presidential campaigns than Sam Popkin. He's a scholar who has worked in War Rooms. A strategist who knows his history. In The Candidate, Professor Popkin teaches us what he's learned — the surprising secrets that separate winning campaigns from the ones that crash and burn." George Stephanopoulos, Anchor and Chief Political Correspondent, ABC News
The Candidate offers a deep dive into Presidential politics. Popkin tells us why so many 'inevitable' candidates fail, why incumbency can be as much a burden as a blessing, and why the presidency is often won or lost behind the scenes. Informed, opinionated, and smart. Must reading in 2012 and beyond." Richard Thaler, co-author of Nudge
"Samuel L. Popkin has written a ground-breaking book, making use of his skills as a political scientist, his extensive experience in campaigns, and his prodigious archival research to produce a gold-plated analysis of presidential elections. His book, The Candidate: What it Takes to Win – and Hold – the White House, is not just a crucial document for campaign strategists, political reporters, and academics; it is a great read for members of the general public who will find it enlightening, refreshing, and a new source for understanding the world of high-powered politics." Thomas Edsall, author of The Age of Austerity
"Popkin is that rare academic who can write a fast-moving, punchy book that rescues political science from spreadsheets and algorithms and thereby makes it interesting and captivating. The Candidate is argumentative, opinionated, provocative and a great read for any political junkie or activist." Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush
"[A] valuable aspect of The Candidate is [Popkin's] insistence that what matters above all else is the team, and especially the immediate supervisor of that team, the chief of staff...convincing." Michael Tomasky, The New York Review of Books
Itandrsquo;s not what you say, but how you say it. Solving problems with words is the essence of politics, and finding the right words for the moment can make or break a politicianandrsquo;s career. Yet very little has been said in political science about the elusive element of tone.
In Political Tone, Roderick P. Hart, Jay P. Childers, and Colene J. Lind analyze a range of textsandmdash;from speeches and debates to advertising and print and broadcast campaign coverageandmdash; using a sophisticated computer program, DICTION, that parses their content for semantic features like realism, commonality, and certainty, as well as references to religion, party, or patriotic terms. Beginning with a look at how societal forces like diversity and modernity manifest themselves as political tones in the contexts of particular leaders and events, the authors proceed to consider how individual leaders have used tone to convey their messages: How did Bill Clintonandrsquo;s clever dexterity help him recover from the Monica Lewinsky scandal? How did Barack Obama draw on his experience as a talented community activist to overcome his inexperience as a national leader? And how does Sarah Palinandrsquo;s wandering tone indicate that she trusts her listeners and is open to their ideas?
By focusing not on the substance of political arguments but on how they were phrased, Political Tone provides powerful and unexpected insights into American politics.
About the Author
Samuel L. Popkin
is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. He has also been a consulting analyst in presidential campaigns, serving as consultant to the Clinton campaign on polling and strategy, to the CBS News election units from 1983 to 1990 on survey design and analysis, and more recently to the Gore campaign. He has also served as consultant to political parties in Canada and Europe and to the Departments of State and Defense. His most recent book is The Reasoning Voter: Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns
; earlier he co-authored Issues and Strategies: The Computer Simulation of Presidential Campaigns
; and he co-edited Chief of Staff: Twenty-Five Years of Managing the Presidency
Table of Contents
PART I. Understanding Language
CHAPTER 1.and#160; The Mysteries of Political Tone
PART II. Societal Forces
CHAPTER 2.and#160; Diversity and the Accommodating ToneCHAPTER 3.and#160; Partisanship and the Balanced ToneCHAPTER 4.and#160; Modernity and the Urgent ToneCHAPTER 5.and#160; Institutions and the Assertive Tone
PART III. Personal Forces
CHAPTER 6.and#160; Scandal and the Resilient ToneCHAPTER 7.and#160; Complexity and the Measured ToneCHAPTER 8.and#160; Inexperience and the Neighborly ToneCHAPTER 9.and#160; Ambition and the Wandering Tone
PART IV. Beyond Language
CHAPTER 10.and#160; The Possibilities of Political Tone