Conventional Wisdom and American Elections: Exploding Myths, Exploring Misconceptions / Edition 2

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Many students develop misinformed opinions about the American electoral process. Conventional Wisdom and American Elections: Exploding Myths, Exploring Misconceptions debunks some of the more common misunderstanding that have arisen about the electoral process in the past few decades. The book's organizations and structure complement course on campaigns and elections, political parties, political participations, public opinion, the media, Congress, and the presidency. Topics include campaign finance, political parties, and voting, and the roles played by campaigns, negative campaigning, political parties, and the media in the electoral process. Each chapter is fairly short yet offers comprehensive coverage of the subject matter. The book contains a minimum of complex statistical analysis and is written so that it is accessible to undergraduate students. However, explicit connections are made throughout the text between political science research and the role it plays in dispelling falsehoods about campaigns and elections. The book is useful as a pedagogical tool to help "hook" students into thinking about elections, politics, and political science. The second edition includes material from the 2008 election, as well as two new chapters that cover campaign finance reform and the selection of vice presidential candidates.

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Editorial Reviews

The book would serve admirably as a supplemental textbook for a course on US government or elections....[A]ll the chapters provide useful information and starting points for debate and discussion. Summing Up: Highly Recommended. All levels.
The book would serve admirably as a supplemental textbook for a course on US government or elections....[A]ll the chapters provide useful information and starting points for debate and discussion. Summing Up: Highly Recommended. All levels.
Renan Levine
One of the biggest challenges for teachers of introductory U.S. government courses is the need to combat our students' misunderstandings about American politics. This informative book presents detailed information about some of the most pressing contemporary issues to explode popular myths about issues like youth turnout, media bias and the political divide between blue states and "Jesusland." Baumgartner and Francia do an excellent job making both historical evidence and recent political science research accessible to readers without any background in American government.
Larry J. Sabato
This book is a marvelous antidote for the misinformation that poisons the American bloodstream about our politics and government. Conventional wisdom is often wrong, whereas this sensible volume gets it right. Read it, and then you may not have to take two aspirin and call your spin doctor in the morning!
Nathan Bigelow
Conventional Wisdom and American Elections takes on several common political myths occasionally spread in classrooms by those who should know better and which appear with frustrating regularity in the news media. Baumgartner and Francia condense a mountain of political science research into an engaging and very accessible text. I cannot wait to assign this book to my students.
James A. McCann
The writing is clear, and even the more technical sections are approachable...The book covers much of the ground that I wish to cover in my course.
Paul R. Schulman
Praise for the First Edition: [A] very good text for discussing the then upcoming presidential election. It offered a good mix of voting data and very timely analysis. Students could easily see the relevance of the challenges to the "conventional wisdom".
Leonard Williams
The perfect election year supplement for my American politics text.
Costas Panagopoulos
This book is political science at its best. The authors couple compelling empirical evidence with keen insight to set the record straight on a wide range of common misunderstandings about American politics and elections. Conventional Wisdom should be required reading for any course in American elections—and maybe even for the public at large.
Christopher P. Gilbert
To have a text that is very readable without sacrificing the subtleties and sophistication of the content is a blessing.
Leonard Williams
The perfect election year supplement for my American politics text.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442200883
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/16/2010
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jody C. Baumgartner is assistant professor of political science at East Carolina University. Peter L. Francia is associate professor of political science at East Carolina University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

Part I Voters

1 Vanishing Voters: Misconceptions about Voter Turnout and the Youth Vote 3

2 A Polarized Nation? "The Culture War" and Divisions in American Politics 17

3 The Myth of Independent and Swing Voters 37

Part II Following Campaigns

4 Misconceptions about Campaign Finance Reform: What Regulations Have and Have Not Accomplished 49

5 The "Veepstakes": Balancing the Ticket and Other Myths about Vice Presidential Selection 67

6 Myth or Reality? Presidential Campaigns Have Become Nastier 83

7 Science or Voodoo? Misconceptions about National Election Polls 99

8 "It's the Ratings, Stupid": Misconceptions about Media Bias 113

9 A "Dime's Worth of Difference"? Political Parties and the Myth of Tweedledum and Tweedledee 127

Part III Understanding Election Outcomes

10 Selling the President: The "Image is Everything" Myth 145

11 The Illusion of Competitive Congressional Elections 159

12 "Kingmaker" and Battleground States and the Myth of National Presidential Elections 179

Notes 197

Index 231

About the Authors 241

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