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The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up for Grabs - and Who Will Take It

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In today’s fraught political climate, one thing is indisputable: the dream of the emerging Democratic majority is dead. How did the Democrats, who seemed unstoppable only two short years ago, lose their momentum so quickly, and what does it mean for the future of our two-party system? Here, RealClearPolitics senior analyst Sean Trende explores the underlying weaknesses of the Democratic promise of recent years, and shows how unlikely a new era of liberal values always was as demonstrated by the current backlash ...

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The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up for Grabs - and Who Will Take It

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In today’s fraught political climate, one thing is indisputable: the dream of the emerging Democratic majority is dead. How did the Democrats, who seemed unstoppable only two short years ago, lose their momentum so quickly, and what does it mean for the future of our two-party system? Here, RealClearPolitics senior analyst Sean Trende explores the underlying weaknesses of the Democratic promise of recent years, and shows how unlikely a new era of liberal values always was as demonstrated by the current backlash against unions and other Democratic pillars. Persuasively arguing that both Republicans and Democrats are failing to connect with the real values of the American people - and that long-held theories of cyclical political "realignments" are baseless - Trende shows how elusive a true and lasting majority is in today’s climate, how Democrats can make up for the ground they’ve lost, and how Republicans can regain power and credibility. Trende’s surprising insights include:

The South didn’t shift toward the Republicans because of racism, but because of economics.

Barack Obama’s 2008 win wasn’t grounded in a new, transformative coalition, but in a narrower version of Bill Clinton’s coalition.

The Latino vote is not a given for the Democrats; as they move up the economic ladder, they will start voting Republican.

Even before the recent fights about the public sector, Democratic strongholds like unions were no longer relevant political entities.

With important critiques of the possible Republican presidential nominations in 2012, this is a timely, inspiring look at the next era of American politics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“There is much that is useful in Trende’s data-rich analysis, even (perhaps especially) for those put off by his conservative credentials… he reminds us that nothing is inevitable in American politics. Demographic advantage does not equal certain political victory.”—The New Republic

“Trende has developed a reputation as one of the country’s most promising younger political analysts. In this iconoclastic, detailed study, he takes on one of the most visible and widely supported theories in contemporary American politics…Trende makes a strong argument that American politics is surprisingly fluid and that the widespread belief in the existence of distinct eras—such as the New Deal era, from 1932 to 1968, or the era of Republican ascendance, from Richard Nixon through George W. Bush—does not hold up under close examination.”—Foreign Affairs

"A remarkably informative and insightful primer on American elections….Many of Trende’s topics would be fertile ground for an entire book, and I join Trende’s many fans in looking forward to his next one. When the time arrives to draw up the curriculum for the Walter Lippmann Pundit Training Academy — think clown college, but less amusing — Sean Trende’s book ought to be at the top of the reading list.”—The National Review

"If you read only one political book before the presidential election make it THE LOST MAJORITY . . . A provocative, original analysis of the coalitions that have shaped the past century's politics . . . The depth of research and incisive analysis displayed in THE LOST MAJORITY powerfully confirm Trende's status as a bright new star in the field." —Lousiville Courier-Journal

“Trende is persuasive in debunking realignment theory…on his main subject, the zig and zag of party politics, Trende is wholly convincing. He has a fi ne sense of exactly which item to select from his vast store of data to make his case. In American politics, every majority is in time a lost majority.”—Commentary

"A convincing, methodical assessment of historical coalition-building and its impact on contemporary politics . . . [an] impressive debut.”—The Weekly Standard

“Readable and logical…a fairly persuasive argument that our general assumptions about the implications of any given election are usually wrong…I heartily recommend The Lost Majority: particularly if you want to have a good idea how people have actually been voting for the last ninety years.”—RedState

"A brilliant critique of what we might call realignment thinking." —Reihan Salam, The National Review Online

“Sean is one of the best analysts in the political realm today because he looks for what the data actually says rather than what he wants it to say. The result is a book that will frustrate both Republican and Democratic activists because it does not foresee a realigning victory for either team. Well done!”—Scott Rasmussen, Founder and President, Rasmussen Reports

For about a half century, students of American politics, including myself, have been held captive by the theory of realignment. Every turnover of Congress or the White House has brought new predictions of a long-term majority. Sean Trende does a remarkably good job of trying to undermine this view of American politics. Anyone interested in where our elections are taking us—on the left or the right—would benefit from reading his book.”—John B. Judis, Senior Editor, The New Republic, and author of The Emerging Democratic Majority

“For years I thought there was nothing new to be found on the well-trodden ground of American political history over the last century. I was wrong. In The Lost Majority Sean Trende provides an original and convincing analysis of the politics of our past and a bracing look at where it can go in the future. Required reading for all political junkies.”—Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst, The Washington Examiner

“The last ten years of American politics have been a roller coaster that has confounded all the experts. Until now. In this groundbreaking book, Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics re-conceives the last 80 years of American history to explain persuasively why both the Republicans and Democrats have foundered, and what happens next to both sides. This one is a must-have for those with an interest in next year’s electoral battle!”—Jay Cost, The Weekly Standard

“This thoughtful, data-rich, well-argued book by Sean Trende makes a persuasive case: that dreams of a permanent electoral majority are destined to be dashed. Every president and his advisers dream the dream, that a temporary victory in one or two elections can somehow be transformed into one-party rule for eons. Free people in a republic won’t permit it, and economic cycles and other big events will eventually make fast work of political plans hatched in anybody’s Oval Office.”—Larry Sabato, author of A More Perfect Constitution

Kirkus Reviews
American politics is nasty, ugly, messy and divisive--and that's just the way it should be. RealClearPolitics senior elections analyst Trende, frequently heard on the seemingly contradictory avenues of Fox News, CNN and NPR, allows that the current scene looks especially chaotic, but adds, "the type of instability we've witnessed recently is really the rule in American politics, whereas extended dominance of either the presidency or the House is the exception." Thus the often-mooted predictions, usually just after an election, that one of the major parties is headed for extinction or permanent minority status is usually wrong--and though Trende doesn't adequately allow for the possibility of gerrymandering or poll fixing, we should hope that he's right. Voter coalitions are similarly fragile, he writes; they tend to cluster around issues, and once the issue is addressed or forgotten the coalition tends to disintegrate. That some coalitions have been killed deliberately is another matter. The author examines the slow but steady expulsion of Southern conservatives out of the ranks of the Democratic Party during the FDR administration, which he calls "a feature of the New Deal, not a bug." Without being blatant about it, he also examines the rightward tilt of the current GOP in that light. FDR eventually had to re-recruit the Southerners; the question remains whether the GOP will have to seek out moderates to fill its tent, given the fact that in the last election the "Republicans nominated several candidates who were too stridently conservative for their states and districts, even in 2010." The big news in the book is Trende's observation that the Obama victory of 2008 drew on the narrowest reading of the broad-based coalition that Bill Clinton assembled in the early 1990s, and the steady withering of his base may prove harmful in 2012. Nonetheless, writes the author, "[t]his book offers no sexy prediction about what will happen next in American politics," but instead a smart look at just how predictably unpredictable the electorate has proven to be. Required reading for electoral handicappers, polling bookies and other political junkies.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230116467
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/3/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,450,348
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Sean Trende is the senior elections analyst for and has one of the top track records in the industry for correctly predicting the outcome of elections. His work is regularly cited by commentators on both sides of the political spectrum, including Rush Limbaugh, David Brooks, Michael Barone, and Nate Silver. He is a regular guest on Fox News and makes regular radio appearances on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” CNN Radio, and FoxNews Radio. He lives in Midlothian, Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2012

    What an idiot

    Looks like Sean needs to go back to the drawing board as November 7th 2012 affirmed the formidability of the ever-EXPANDING Democratic coalition. It seems a book full of wishful thinking and cherry-picked statistics simply wasn't enough to convince the American electorate that Sean's increasingly marginalized Grand Old Party had anything to offer the middle-class. I'm looking forward very eagerly to this prescient author's next book detailing President Mitt Romney's first term in office.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2013

    Objective in the way only objectivists will understand

    There's an idea about the general state of the political parties in America that correlates with this book.

    Republicans see democrats and everyone else as liberal.

    Democrats see republicans and everyone else conservative.

    Everyone else sees both parties liken to children bickering over who gets to play with the toy next. (That last part is mine)

    Undoubtably, this book will be seen as taking a subjective stance by those who are subjective by nature.

    The reality of this book is the opposite. The author truly takes an objective stance; analyzing from the angles he perceives as relevant to politics moving forward. He leaves himself room for error and dismisses the notion that he must make predictions to properly analyze the history of politics in this country.

    The reader would do well to remember that only so much can be covered in such a short piece and should not expect every fact or theory to be presented in detail to his or her liking; be realistic. Be objective.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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