The Candidate: What It Takes to Win--and Hold--the White House

The Candidate: What It Takes to Win--and Hold--the White House

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by Samuel L. Popkin
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

As Popkin shows, a vision for the future and the audacity to run are only the first steps in a candidate's run for office. To truly survive the most grueling show on earth, presidential hopefuls have to understand the critical factors that Popkin reveals in The Candidate. In the wake of the 2012 election, Popkin's analysis looks remarkably prescient. Obama ran a strong incumbent-oriented campaign but made typical incumbent mistakes, as evidenced by his weak performance in the first debate. The Romney campaign correctly put power in the hands of a strong campaign manager, but it couldn't overcome the weaknesses of the candidate.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sam Popkin is a leading political scientist and someone who has worked inside presidential campaigns over many years. He brings the discipline of an academic and the eye of a practitioner to the question of what makes some candidates successful and other not." —Dan Balz, The Washington Post

"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

"The Candidate is an insider romp through American politics — and a guide to the presidential elections of 2012." — The Globe and Mail

"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

"Sam Popkin is a rare breed-an accomplished academic and practitioner, who understands politics from outside and in. In The Candidate, Popkin shares his keen insights into campaigns, why they win, and why they don't. It's must reading for any student of the game."—David Axelrod

Featured in Survival: Global Politics & Strategy

Library Journal
Combining his extensive insider experience with detailed research, Popkin (political science, Univ. of California, San Diego; The Reasoning Voter: Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns), who has been a Democratic presidential campaign consultant and pollster, lays out the way to win presidential campaigns in this absorbing book. Looking at the last 60 years of races for the White House, he analyzes why some "inevitable" winners lost and how dark horses won against long odds. All of the winners assembled smoothly working teams, were agile enough to respond quickly to hits, had a core of beliefs, and prepared years in advance. Who knew that Reagan studied federal budgeting for two years before challenging Ford in 1976? Or that Obama gambled everything on surprising Hillary Clinton in Iowa by working to double Democratic turnout? Popkin stresses that the losers are always fully prepared, well financed, and briefed in detail—to fight the previous campaign. VERDICT 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.—Duncan Stewart, Univ. of Iowa Libs., Iowa City

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199922079
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
05/04/2012
Pages:
360
Sales rank:
856,790
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

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