Unconventional Wisdom: Facts and Myths about American Voters

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Overview

Unconventional Wisdom offers a novel yet highly accessible synthesis of what we know about American voters and elections. It not only provides an integrated overview of the central themes in American politics-parties, polarization, turnout, partisan bias, campaign effects, swing voters, the gender gap, and the youth vote-but it also upends many of our fundamental preconceptions. Most important, it shows that the American electorate is much more stable than we have been led to believe, and that the voting patterns we see today have deep roots in our history. Throughout, the book provides comprehensive information on voting patterns; illuminates-and corrects-popular myths about voters and elections; and details the empirical foundations of conventional wisdoms that many understand poorly or not at all. It is essential reading for anyone interested in American politics.

About the Author:
Karen M. Kaufmann is Associate Professor of Government at the University of Maryland

About the Author:
John R. Petrocik is Professor and Chair of Political Science at the University of Missouri

About the Author:
Daron R. Shaw is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas-Austin

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A user-friendly and thought-provoking book that will be valuable to journalists, bloggers, and others who care about American electionsELAn important contribution that deserves a wide audience."--Political Science Quarterly


"This provocative book explains why a lot of what you--and most Americans--think they know about voters, elections, and campaigns is wrong. It is a thoughtful, straightforward volume by some of the most interesting minds in political science today. If you want to understand U.S. politics in the 21st century, read this book now."--Karl Rove

"Unconventional Wisdom makes a significant contribution to our understanding of elections and performs a major public service, challenging the myths and false assumptions embedded in contemporary media analyses and in public discussion of campaigns."--Thomas B. Edsall, Political Editor, The Huffington Post; and Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor, Columbia University

"Kaufmann, Petrocik, and Shaw take on--successfully--a very difficult project: to show that systematic, quantitative analysis about voting behavior can yield genuine insight, more so than observation, anecdote, and gut feeling. I hope they repeat this for more topics, because their message is not only interesting but insightful."--John Aldrich, Pfizer-Pratt University Professor of Political Science, Duke University

"Campaigners will find this book even better than garlic for repulsing media vampires trying to fob off unsubstantiated urban legends on the public. The authors have done an enlightening job of demonstrating that conventional wisdom is an oxymoron."--Sam Popkin, Professor of Politics, University of California at San Diego

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195366846
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen M. Kaufmann is an Associate Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. She is well-known for her research on the gender gap in political behavior and has published various articles on presidential primaries and political campaign strategies. She is the author of The Urban Voter (2004), and is widely recognized for her research regarding racial and ethnic politics. She has appeared on CNN's Inside Politics.

John R. Petrocik is Professor and Chair of Political Science at the University of Missouri. He has authored or coauthored books and research articles on mass attitudes and behavior, political parties, and elections and campaigns. One of the books, The Changing American Voter (Harvard University Press 1976, Revised 1979) received the Woodrow Wilson award in 1977 from the American Political Science Association for the best book on American politics in that year.

Daron R. Shaw is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas-Austin. In 2006, he published The Race to 270 (University of Chicago Press) which analyzes the effects of TV advertising and candidate visits on the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. He served as a strategist in the 2000 and 2004 presidential election campaigns and is on the Fox News national decision team.

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Table of Contents


Preface     vii
Facts and Myths about American Voters: An Introduction     3
Americans Hate to Love Their Party, but They Do!     19
Are American Voters Polarized?     47
Who Swings?     67
Soccer Moms and Other Myths about the Gender Gap     93
The Young and Not-So-Restless Voters     115
The Partisan Bias of Turnout     145
Campaign Effects in the Twenty-First Century     163
Hard Facts and Conventional Wisdom as We Look to the Future     191
Appendices     201
Notes     217
Bibliography     237
Index     257
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