Which mattered more--Barack Obama's midsummer ad blitz or the election year's economic growth? How many voters actually changed their minds--and was it ever enough to sway the outcome? The Gamble answers important questions like these by looking at the interplay between the candidates' strategic choices--the ads, speeches, rallies, and debates--and the chance circumstances of the election, especially the economy. In the Republican primary, the book shows, the electioneering and the media's restless attention did matter, producing a string of frontrunners. But when Obama and Mitt Romney finally squared off in the general election, there were few real game-changers. The candidates' billion-dollar campaigns were important but largely cancelled each other out, opening the way for Obama to do what incumbents usually do when running amid even modest economic growth: win.
An election book unlike any other, The Gamble is a must-read for political junkies, analysts, journalists, consultants, and academics.
Vavreck examines the past sixty years of presidential elections and offers a new theory of campaigns that explains why electoral victory requires more than simply being the candidate favored by prevailing economic conditions. Using data from presidential elections since 1952, she reveals why, when, and how campaign messages make a difference--and when they can outweigh economic predictors of election outcomes.
The Message Matters does more than show why candidates favored by the economy must build their campaigns around economic messages. Vavreck's theory also explains why candidates disadvantaged by the economy must try to focus their elections on noneconomic issues that meet exacting criteria--and why this is so hard to do.