Review by Choice Review
Readers looking for a narrative history of presidential campaigns will not find that information here. Campbell (Univ. of Buffalo, SUNY), author of The Presidential Pulse of Congressional Elections (CH, Apr'94) and other books, offers the theory of "the predictable campaign." That is, campaigns do matter, despite the contention of many political scientists. Of course campaigns matter; ask Harry Truman. The elections examined center on those contests between 1948 and 1996, with emphasis beginning in 1960; polling data used for examination are available. Front runners usually win, but the reason might prove useful. Campbell's theory shows that campaign effects are "systematic and predictable." He demonstrates that (1) effects are limited, (2) the circumstances are in place, (3) vigorous campaigning narrows the gap between candidates. Polling statistics drive the message of this book, but the "why" of decision is often elusive. Chapter 7 presents a succinct summary. This volume is not for the casual reader--of the 314 pages, 204 are devoted to text, the remaining 110 deal with explanatory material. Recommended for graduate students, faculty, and professionals. S. L. Harrison; University of Miami
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Campbell, a political science professor, argues that presidential campaigns do affect election results in a systematic, predictable way. Although these effects are constrained (by voters' partisanship, economic conditions, incumbency, and competition), Campbell gives post^-Labor Day campaigns credit, on average, for four percentage points' impact on the national vote, with the campaigns decisive in two of the last 13 elections (1948 and 1960). Over a longer period, campaigns have played a critical role in 20 percent of presidential races. Campbell describes the systematic and unsystematic effects of campaigns on both local and national levels; uses statistical analysis to challenge the notion that Americans are becoming less partisan; and suggests that campaigns exert much of their effect by influencing the partisanship of late-deciding voters. Larger libraries where serious studies of politics circulate will want to consider this thoughtful entry in the current debate over whether U.S. political campaigns matter and, if so, how much and why. --Mary Carroll
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.