Polsby and Wildavsky’s classic text, now updated by Stephen Schier and David Hopkins, argues that the institutional rules of the presidential nomination and election processes, in combination with the behavior of the mass electorate, structure the strategic choices faced by politicians in powerful and foreseeable ways. We can make sense of the decisions made by different political actors—incumbents, challengers, Democrats, Republicans, consultants, party officials, activists, delegates, journalists, and voters—by understanding the ways in which their world is organized by incentives, regulations, events, resources, customs, and opportunities. Thoroughly revised and updated, this Sixteenth Edition provides everything students need to know about presidential elections going into the 2024 cycle.
Steven E. Schier is Dorothy H. and Edward C. Congdon Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Carleton College. He is the author or editor of 23 books including The Trump Effect: Disruption and Its Consequences in US Politics and Government and Polarized: The Rise of Ideology in American Politics, both with R&L.
David A. Hopkins is associate professor of political science at Boston College. He is the author of Red Fighting Blue: How Geography and Electoral Rules Polarize American Politics (Cambridge University Press), and Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats (Oxford University Press). His political analysis has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Vox, and he is a contributing columnist at Bloomberg Opinion.Nelson W. Polsby was Heller Professor of Political Science and past Director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught American politics for forty years.Aaron Wildavsky was Class of 1940 Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and founding dean of Berkeley's Graduate (now Goldman) School of Public Policy.
List of Figures, Tables, and Boxes
PART I. THE STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENT1. VOTERSWhy People Don’t VoteWhy People Do Vote: A Theory of Social ConnectednessParty Identification as Social IdentityParties as Aggregates of Loyal VotersIdeologies, Issues, and National Conditions in the Minds of VotersChanges in Party Identification: Social Habit versus Contemporary EvaluationA Central Strategic Problem: The Attentiveness of Voters2. GROUPSThe Presidential Vote as an Aggregation of Interest GroupsVariations among Interest Groups“Special” Interests, Campaign Spending, and Public Interest GroupsPolitical Parties as OrganizationsThird Parties3. RULES AND RESOURCESRules: The Electoral CollegeThinking About ResourcesResources: MoneyResources: Control over InformationIncumbency as a Resource: The PresidencyIncumbency as a Liability: The Vice PresidencyThe Balance of ResourcesPART II. SEQUENCES4. THE NOMINATION PROCESSBefore the Voting Begins: The “Invisible Primary”The Early States
What Do These Historical Vignettes Teach?Super Tuesday and Later PrimariesState and Territorial CaucusesDelegate AllocationSuperdelegates
An Ever-Changing Nomination ProcessThe National Party Conventions
The Convention as AdvertisingThe Vice Presidential NomineeThe Future of National Conventions5. THE CAMPAIGNThe Well-Traveled CandidatesPersuading VotersWinning the Media GameCampaign ProfessionalsTelevised DebatesGetting Out the VoteCampaign BlundersForecasting the OutcomeCounting the VotePART III. ISSUES6. APPRAISALSReform upon ReformThe Political Theory of Policy GovernmentReform by Means of Participatory DemocracySome Specific ReformsParty Platforms and Party Differences7. AMERICAN PARTIES AND DEMOCRACYElections and Public PolicyParties of Advocacy versus Parties of IntermediationAPPENDIXESA. Vote by Groups in Presidential Elections, 1984–2020B. Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections, by Population Characteristics, 1984–2020C. Selections from the Democratic and Republican Party Platforms, 2020
Presidential Elections: Strategies and Structures of American Politics is the gold standard for textbooks on U.S. presidential elections. The volume thoroughly covers critical pieces of the puzzle of presidential elections including money, different campaign actors, and rules. In addition, it delves into equally important topics that often receive less attention such as the strategic factors in campaigns that can mean winning or losing for a candidate. The up-to-date nature of the volume is also outstanding in covering new trends in topics like media and information flow as well as the changing nature of presidential primaries. In short, this book is a must for those looking for a complete understanding of presidential elections in the U.S..
Presidential Elections remains the classic text on the structure, history, and process of presidential campaign politics. It is unsurpassed in its coverage of the breadth of influences on elections and their roles in electoral history. This provides an excellent foundation for a better informed and more sophisticated perspective on our current electoral politics–particularly important in these hyper-polarized times.
This book is in its 16th edition for a reason. No book on presidential elections is better. The scholarly coverage is logically developed, complete, and joyfully readable. Everything students need to know about presidential elections is clearly presented with skillful use of informative figures, tables, and charts. I have used this classic textbook for decades. I will continue to use it because my students love this book.