The Rise of the President's Permanent Campaign

The Rise of the President's Permanent Campaign

by Brendan J. Doherty
     
 

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While the presidency has always been a political office, the distinction between campaigning and governing has become increasingly blurred in recent years. Yet no one until now has documented the phenomenon of the "permanent campaign" and analyzed its impact on the executive office. In this eye-opening book, Brendan Doherty provides empirical evidence of the

Overview

While the presidency has always been a political office, the distinction between campaigning and governing has become increasingly blurred in recent years. Yet no one until now has documented the phenomenon of the "permanent campaign" and analyzed its impact on the executive office. In this eye-opening book, Brendan Doherty provides empirical evidence of the growing focus by American presidents on electoral concerns throughout their terms in office, clearly demonstrating that we can no longer assume that the time a president spends campaigning for reelection can be separated from the time he spends governing.

To track the evolving relationship between campaigning and governing, Doherty examines the strategic choices that presidents make and what those choices reveal about presidential priorities. He focuses on the rise in presidential fundraising and the targeting of key electoral states throughout a president's term in office—illustrating that recent presidents have disproportionately visited those states that are important to their political prospects while largely neglecting those without electoral payoff. He also shows how decisions about electoral matters previously made by party officials are now made by voter-conscious operatives within the White House.

Doherty analyzes what these changing dynamics portend for the nature of presidential leadership, contending that while such strategies can at times strengthen a president's hand, they can also undermine his role as a unifying national leader, heighten public cynicism, and limit prospects for bipartisan compromise. He further shows how trends in presidential fundraising undermine the conventional understanding of the predatory relationship between the president and his party.

Drawing on new systematic evidence of presidential fundraising and travel, archival research at presidential libraries, and accounts by presidents and their aides, Doherty musters a mountain of evidence to offer an objective, comprehensive argument about the causes, indicators, and implications of the rise of the permanent campaign as no previous book has done—an evenhanded account that seeks to disparage no individual president. Concise and accessible, The Rise of the President's Permanent Campaign engages crucially important questions about the development of the presidency—as well as larger normative questions about what we want in a leader—as it challenges the convention in political science that has long kept most scholarship on presidential campaigns separate from the study of the presidency itself.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The idea of the "permanent campaign" is not a new one, but no scholar to date has delved into the detail of what that means for U.S. presidents to the degree that Doherty (political science, U.S. Naval Acad.) has done here. His book is based primarily on a database constructed through careful examination of the public papers of U.S. presidents from Carter through Obama to gather empirical evidence on the frequency, nature, and location of presidential fund-raising events over those years. Doherty found that both travel and fund-raising have risen sharply across the administrations he studied, and that "battleground" states are disproportionately the destinations when a president travels from the White House. Doherty's archival research on the rise of the White House Office of Political Affairs corroborates these data. VERDICT While Doherty warns against the president's increasingly becoming a "divisive figure" with an eye always on the next election, general (rather than academic) readers will be better served by other books saying similar things, such as The Permanent Campaign and Its Future, edited by Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann, or Kathryn Dunn Tenpas's Presidents as Candidates. But any scholar looking for hard evidence to support what is a widespread suspicion will welcome Doherty's contribution.—Bob Nardini, Niagara Falls, NY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780700618590
Publisher:
University Press of Kansas
Publication date:
07/22/2012
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 6.20(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Brendan J. Doherty is an associate professor of political science at the U.S. Naval Academy and coauthor of Clash of Ideals: Cases in American Political Development.

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