Vital Signs: Perspectives on the Health of American Campaigning

Brookings Institution Press
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It was the best of elections; it was the worst of elections. The 2004 presidential contest mobilized a record number of voters, with 121 million Americans showing up at the polls. But in many eyes, the 2004 race also plumbed new depths. It was the most expensive presidential election in history, with a price tag of $2.2 billion. It was also marked by unprecedented negativity—for example, both George W. Bush and John Kerry came under fire for their activities during the Vietnam War, which ended three decades ago. In V ital Signs, David Dulio and Candice Nelson analyze the Bush and Kerry campaigns and use them as the springboard for a broader exploration of the current U.S. campaign system and its strengths and weaknesses. The book addresses four key issues: Who's in charge of modern campaigns? How effective are the key players? What role does money play? And are campaigns being conducted in an ethical manner? In answering these questions, Dulio and Nelson draw on a wide range of sources, including focus groups, interviews with campaign professionals, and a unique dataset based on multiple surveys of political consultants, party operatives, and the public. The culmination of the seven-year "Improving Campaign Conduct" project, Vital Signs should become an integral part of the debate about American campaigns and elections.
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About the author

David A. Dulio is assistant professor of political science at Oakland University. He is the author of For Better or Worse: How Political Consultants Are Changing Elections in the United States (Suny Press, 2004). Candice J. Nelson is academic director of the Campaign Management Institute and associate professor of government at American University. James A. Thurber is director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and professor of government at American University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
May 26, 2006
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Pages
225
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ISBN
9780815797906
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Political Process / Campaigns & Elections
Political Science / Political Process / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Political advertising plays a key role in modern electioneering and has formed part of political campaigns since the earliest federal elections were held in the United States. As modes of mass communication have evolved, so have the venues for campaign advertising—from newspapers to radio and television, and today, the Internet. Not only have the outlets for political advertising expanded over the past twenty years, so have the number of groups using it to convey information and advance their points of view. Because political advertising has become such a pervasive medium for candidates, political parties, and special interest groups, understanding its role in election campaigns becomes all the more important. Crowded Airwaves gathers some of the most significant new work in American political advertising and communication. The contributors provide an objective and balanced analysis of political advertising: its causes, its growth, and its consequences on elections in the United States. The chapters in this volume tackle three of the most interesting and most complicated issues in political advertising today: the characterization of ads and the need to measure their impact; the agenda-setting and priming effects of ads; and the role and implications of issue advertising for the electorate. The contributors focus in particular on the effects and consequences of negative advertising. Crowded Airwaves will appeal to readers who are interested in political campaigns and communication. It will be of special importance to those concerned with the tone and content of electoral campaigns and political discourse.
One of Wall Street Journal's Best Ten Works of Nonfiction in 2012
 
New York Times Bestseller

“Not so different in spirit from the way public intellectuals like John Kenneth Galbraith once shaped discussions of economic policy and public figures like Walter Cronkite helped sway opinion on the Vietnam War…could turn out to be one of the more momentous books of the decade.”
—New York Times Book Review
 
"Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise is The Soul of a New Machine for the 21st century."
—Rachel Maddow, author of Drift

"A serious treatise about the craft of prediction—without academic mathematics—cheerily aimed at lay readers. Silver's coverage is polymathic, ranging from poker and earthquakes to climate change and terrorism."
—New York Review of Books

Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger—all by the time he was thirty. He solidified his standing as the nation's foremost political forecaster with his near perfect prediction of the 2012 election. Silver is the founder and editor in chief of the website FiveThirtyEight. 
 
Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.

In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good—or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary—and dangerous—science.

Silver observes that the most accurate forecasters tend to have a superior command of probability, and they tend to be both humble and hardworking. They distinguish the predictable from the unpredictable, and they notice a thousand little details that lead them closer to the truth. Because of their appreciation of probability, they can distinguish the signal from the noise.

With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our predictions, Nate Silver’s insights are an essential read.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

Who are the immensely wealthy right-wing ideologues shaping the fate of America today? From the bestselling author of The Dark Side, an electrifying work of investigative journalism that uncovers the agenda of this powerful group.

In her new preface, Jane Mayer discusses the results of the most recent election and Donald Trump's victory, and how, despite much discussion to the contrary, this was a huge victory for the billionaires who have been pouring money in the American political system.

Why is America living in an age of profound and widening economic inequality? Why have even modest attempts to address climate change been defeated again and again? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers? In a riveting and indelible feat of reporting, Jane Mayer illuminates the history of an elite cadre of plutocrats—headed by the Kochs, the Scaifes, the Olins, and the Bradleys—who have bankrolled a systematic plan to fundamentally alter the American political system. Mayer traces a byzantine trail of billions of dollars spent by the network, revealing a staggering conglomeration of think tanks, academic institutions, media groups, courthouses, and government allies that have fallen under their sphere of influence. Drawing from hundreds of exclusive interviews, as well as extensive scrutiny of public records, private papers, and court proceedings, Mayer provides vivid portraits of the secretive figures behind the new American oligarchy and a searing look at the carefully concealed agendas steering the nation. Dark Money is an essential book for anyone who cares about the future of American democracy.

National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
LA Times Book Prize Finalist
PEN/Jean Stein Book Award Finalist
Shortlisted for the Lukas Prize
Political advertising plays a key role in modern electioneering and has formed part of political campaigns since the earliest federal elections were held in the United States. As modes of mass communication have evolved, so have the venues for campaign advertising—from newspapers to radio and television, and today, the Internet. Not only have the outlets for political advertising expanded over the past twenty years, so have the number of groups using it to convey information and advance their points of view. Because political advertising has become such a pervasive medium for candidates, political parties, and special interest groups, understanding its role in election campaigns becomes all the more important. Crowded Airwaves gathers some of the most significant new work in American political advertising and communication. The contributors provide an objective and balanced analysis of political advertising: its causes, its growth, and its consequences on elections in the United States. The chapters in this volume tackle three of the most interesting and most complicated issues in political advertising today: the characterization of ads and the need to measure their impact; the agenda-setting and priming effects of ads; and the role and implications of issue advertising for the electorate. The contributors focus in particular on the effects and consequences of negative advertising. Crowded Airwaves will appeal to readers who are interested in political campaigns and communication. It will be of special importance to those concerned with the tone and content of electoral campaigns and political discourse.
To many, the term "campaign ethics" is an oxymoron. Questionable campaign conduct occurs at many levels, from national presidential elections to local delegate contests. Campaign ethics goes beyond mere "ethical dilemmas," or trying to decide whether or not a particular act is above board. The chapters in this volume examine the broad questions of ethics in campaigns from the perspective of those actors that play critical roles in them, as well as the scholars who study them. The contributors—who include leading academics, as well as practitioners from the world of campaigning and campaign reform—outline, assess, and critique the role and responsibilities of candidates, citizens, organized interest groups, political parties, professional campaign consultants, and the media, in insuring ethical campaigns. Contributors include: Robert E. Denton (Virginia Tech University), David A. Dulio (Oakland University), Brad Rourke (Institute for Global Ethics), Robin Kolodny (Temple University), L. Dale Lawton (Institute for Global Ethics), L. Sandy Maisel (Colby College), Larry Makinson (Center for Responsive Politics), Stephen K. Medvic (Franklin & Marshall College), Dale E. Miller (Old Dominion University), Candice J. Nelson (Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University), Mark A. Siegel (Office of Congressman Steve Israel), Paul Taylor (Alliance For Better Campaigns), James A. Thurber (Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University), Michael W. Traugott (University of Michigan), Carol Whitney (Whitney and Associatesand Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University), and William H. Wood (Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership, University of Virginia).
To many, the term "campaign ethics" is an oxymoron. Questionable campaign conduct occurs at many levels, from national presidential elections to local delegate contests. Campaign ethics goes beyond mere "ethical dilemmas," or trying to decide whether or not a particular act is above board. The chapters in this volume examine the broad questions of ethics in campaigns from the perspective of those actors that play critical roles in them, as well as the scholars who study them. The contributors—who include leading academics, as well as practitioners from the world of campaigning and campaign reform—outline, assess, and critique the role and responsibilities of candidates, citizens, organized interest groups, political parties, professional campaign consultants, and the media, in insuring ethical campaigns. Contributors include: Robert E. Denton (Virginia Tech University), David A. Dulio (Oakland University), Brad Rourke (Institute for Global Ethics), Robin Kolodny (Temple University), L. Dale Lawton (Institute for Global Ethics), L. Sandy Maisel (Colby College), Larry Makinson (Center for Responsive Politics), Stephen K. Medvic (Franklin & Marshall College), Dale E. Miller (Old Dominion University), Candice J. Nelson (Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University), Mark A. Siegel (Office of Congressman Steve Israel), Paul Taylor (Alliance For Better Campaigns), James A. Thurber (Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University), Michael W. Traugott (University of Michigan), Carol Whitney (Whitney and Associatesand Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University), and William H. Wood (Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership, University of Virginia).
After Barack Obama’s historic 2008 victory, Democrats were riding high. But a number of tough fights on policy initiatives, coupled with an economy struggling to recover, put Democrats in a difficult position leading up to the 2010 congressional elections. With nearly all the electoral gains Democrats made during 2006 and 2008 now lost and the House returned to Republican control, this is one of the most dramatic shifts in congressional power in history

Examining a sample of congressional campaigns waged during this important election provides readers with an account of how Republicans were able to make such impressive gains and how Democrats were unable to stem this tide. Adkins and Dulio provide a clear explanation of the macro trends in this election cycle, followed by twelve in depth and fascinating case studies of House and Senate toss up races involving seats held by endangered Democratic incumbents. Framed by a common set of questions and topics—so that they are singing the same song in different voices—each chapter focuses on the micro-level effects active in the individual campaigns. Furthermore, the editors discuss how the 2010 cycle fits into the existing literature on campaigns and elections, conclusions about what we learned in 2010 by addressing these competitive states and districts, and speculation on what might be ahead in 2012.

In addition, the companion website provides instructors with useful teaching tools, including sample assignments and dynamic PowerPoint slides with graphs and videos.

The State of Michigan has experienced both tremendous growth and great decline in its history. After many decades of growth up to the 1950s, a wide variety of challenges had to be confronted by citizens and all levels of government in Michigan. The late 20th and early 21st centuries have seen pockets of growth but also long-term economic decline in several areas in the state. As one example, steep economic decline in major industrialized cities such as Detroit, Flint, and Pontiac led to increased unemployment rates and flight from the state as residents sought jobs elsewhere. Michigan was in fact the only state in the union to experience net population loss between 2000 and 2010. At the same time, emergencies such as the Detroit bankruptcy and the Flint water crisis have captured the attention of the national and international media, focusing the spotlight on the responses—successful or unsuccessful—by state and local government.

As the state continues to deal with many of these challenges, Michiganders more than ever need a clear picture of how their state’s political institutions, actors, and processes work. To that end, this book provides a comprehensive analysis of Michigan’s politics and government that will help readers better understand the state’s history and its future prospects. Chapters elucidate the foundational aspects of the state’s government (the Michigan Constitution and intergovernmental relations); its political institutions (the state legislature, governor, and court system); its politics (political parties and elections); and its public policy (education, economic development, and budget and fiscal policy). The book’s four themes—historical context, decline, responses to challenges, and state-local government relations—run throughout and are buttressed by coverage of recent events. Moreover, they are brought together in a compelling chapter with a particular focus on the Flint water crisis.
An ideal fit for courses on state and local government, this thorough, well-written text will also appeal to readers simply interested in learning more about the inner workings of government in the Great Lakes State.
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