Aug. 30, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Reading List: Pointers From Previous Campaigns

“The Message Matters: The Economy and Presidential Campaigns,” by Lynn Vavreck
While not solely about re-election campaigns, this book “about the themes that presidential election campaigns use” is “quite relevant,” Shaw believes.

Though it began life as an informal slogan for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid” has lived on as a popular mantra for many political campaigns.

Vavreck, however, argues that it’s not just the economy that matters but also how candidates talk about the economy.

“Vavreck shows how much the economy structures presidential elections but also how candidate strategy matters on top of this,” Sides said. “It doesn’t happen often, but candidates with an economic tailwind can lose and candidates with a headwind can win. Vavreck shows how.”
 
“The Persuadable Voter: Wedge Issues in Presidential Campaigns,” by D. Sunshine Hillygus and Todd G. Shields
Of course, the economy isn’t the only issue that resonates with votes in presidential elections. This book explains the history of wedge issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion and explores how those issues can be effective in determining who wins a presidential election.

Instead of the cavalier attitude pundits sometimes take in regard to these controversial issues, authors Hillygus and Shields base their analysis on years of historical and statistical research to explain how wedge issues work in presidential politics.

“This is a careful analysis of how issues work in campaigns — a useful antidote to pundits whose claims get way ahead of their evidence,” Bailey said.

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