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Inside Campaigns

Inside Campaigns
Elections through the Eyes of Political Professionals

April 2016 | 320 pages | CQ Press
Named a top ten Editors’ Pick in the September 2016 edition of Choice Reviews

Inside Campaigns: Elections Through the Eyes of Political Professionals
offers readers a detailed, thoroughly researched examination of U.S. political campaigns.  Through the eyes of more than 100 campaign managers and political professionals, it takes a behind-the-scenes look at the ways campaigns are managed, the strategies that are employed, the roles played by both staff and the candidates, and all the ways campaigns affect election outcomes. The expert author team provides guidance drawn from actual campaign case studies and contributes their own data-backed assessment of the current state of modern political campaign management. They offer a trove of observations and war stories.  Interviewees include high-profile professionals such as David Axelrod, Ken Mehlman, James Carville, and Kevin Sheekey, as well as lesser-known political journeymen and women who manage America’s state and local campaigns. Democrats and Republicans are evenly represented, giving students a balanced, unique and valuable insight into how campaigns operate.

Chapter 1: Unafraid to Fail - The Craft and Science of Poltical Campaigns
A Tale of Two Managers  
The Personal Side of Politics  
Why Campaign Managers Do It  
What Campaigns Do  
Do Campaigns Matter?  
Teaching Topics  
Chapter 2: Political Math - Why Campaigns Matter
Debating Campaign "Effects"  
What Does "Matter" Mean?  
The Role of Fundamentals: From Demographics to Party ID  
Partisan Composition of the Electorate  
Share and Performance  
The Case of Nevada  
Ask Gore if the Margin Matters  
Chapter 3: Political Historian and Data Scientist - Charting a Path to Victory through Information and Analysis
Tough Numbers in the Big Easy  
Defining a Winning Coalition: Who Are Our Targets?  
How Do We Reach Them?  
What Do We Tell Them?  
How Are We Doing?  
What Are Our Opponents and Allies Doing?  
The Secret Ballot Problem  
Presidential and Congressional Campaigns: The Art and Science of Data Analysis  
Targeting and Micro-Targeting: "Bells-and-Whistles" vs. "Old-Fashioned Grunt Work"  
Focus Groups, Polls, and Other Forms of Information-Gathering  
Determining Voter Blocs  
Chapter 4: Enterpreneur and Chief Financial Officer - Launching the Campaign
Spending and Margins  
The Money Advantage  
How Money Matters (Decisions)  
"The Nightmare of All Campaigns" (Fundraising)  
Hiring the Right Team (Staff)  
Chapter 5: Marketing Wizard - How Do We Reach Them?
The Paradox of Politics and Marketing in the Digital Age  
Political Brand Management: Knowledge is Power  
What are GRPs? Learning the Basic Language of Media  
How Many GRPs Does a Campaign Need? Exploding the Conventional Wisdom of "1,000 GRPs-Per-Spot"  
In the Internet Age, Television is Still King  
The Media Mix: Beyond TV  
Manager Profile - Katie Merrill: Managing in the California Big Leagues  
Chapter 6: Script Writer and Stage Manager - Crafting the Campaign's Messages
What Do We Tell Voters?  
How the Message Matters  
Why Campaigns "Go Negative"  
"A Hugging Contest?" Why Negative Ads Affect Election Margins  
When Going Negative Backfires  
Going Negative in a Primary  
Responding to Negative Attacks  
Chapter 7: Spinmeister and Policy Wonk - Navigating the Media Landscape
Defusing Bad Press  
The Shifting Character of the Media Landscape  
"Hand to Hand Combat"  
The Frustrated Policy Wonk  
Cell Phones and Earned Media  
"The Blogs Will Pick It Up Immediately" (Speed)  
Working the Refs (Credibility)  
Earned Media: An Imperfect Tool  
Chapter 8: Field General
Who Do We Need?  
How Do We Reach Them?  
The Two-Step Process: Deciding to Vote; and Voting for or Against a Candidate  
"Old-Fashioned Grunt Work"  
Losing and Winning on the Ground  
Manager Profile - Reed Galen: Just Say No  
Chapter 9: Strategy Enforcer and Team Builder - Keeping a Day-to-Day Focus on the Long-Term Path to Victory
James Carville: Losing Before Winning  
Clinton-Gore 1992: "The Best Campaign Ever"  
Keeping the Campaign Team on Strategy with Signage  
Inheriting a Team: The Turnaround Manager  
How Are We Doing?  
Strategy Enforcer in the Age of Super-PACs ("What are They Doing?")  
Team Builder  
Managing Consultants  
"The Right Kind of Culture"  
Chapter 10: Candidate Caretaker and Confidant - Handling Details and Building Trust
Becoming Indispensable  
The Buffer and the Concierge  
Building Trust: "Jimmy Here's What We Need to Do"  
Building the Relationship  
Managing the Candidate's Family  
Losing and Winning: When the Campaign Ends  

"Inside Campaigns takes readers into the world of campaign managers. Powered by scores of interviews and surveys of political professionals, the book considers the purpose, potency, and poetry of modern political campaigns in the US.Written by a team with both a scholarly pedigree and a hand in applied politics, Inside Campaigns is a deeper, more systematic approach than seen in several other volumes that do little more than transcribe the comments of political professionals. Instead, the authors take readers on a carefully laid out guided tour of major campaign tasks, such as voter targeting and message strategy. Though the typical campaign text is stuffed with data and wrung free of life, Inside Campaigns includes the drama and intrigue that courses through the topic. Run the negative ad or not? Put money into afield staff, or shift resources elsewhere? These are decisions that can elect candidates and determine whether campaign professionals will work again. An invaluable guide for college students considering a career in campaign politics and a useful work for any campaigns class."

Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through professionals.

D. Niven, University of Cincinnati
September 2016 issue of CHOICE

“The strength of Inside Campaigns is its differentiation from most other books in this market.  Extensive interviews conducted by the authors with campaign managers results in an insider view that isn’t typically present in a book written by political scientists. Feltus, Goldstein, and Dallek are able to juxtapose the theories typically used by political scientists with the knowledge given by campaign managers, providing readers with a unique 360 degree perspective.”

Travis N. Ridout
Washington State University

“I am impressed not only by the purpose of Feltus, Goldstein, and Dallek’s text—to bring real-world perspectives to the study of an immensely important part of campaigns and elections—but also by their fascinating take on the debate over the degree to which campaigns matter.  Their argument is rational, powerful, and well documented, as is their distinction among structure, share, and persuasion in planning and executing campaigns.  Well done.”

Malcolm Cross
Tarleton State University

“Feltus, Goldstein, and Dallek offer a comprehensive text on the role of campaign managers in devising campaign strategy and carrying it through.  The use of testimony and statements from practitioners, both  well-known and less well-known, provides the book with an air of authenticity.  The integration of scholarship on the topic, with related anecdotes, case studies, and statements from actual campaign managers adds to the overall narrative and argument. Campaigns do matter, especially with the focus on the margins, and this is borne out in the text.”

Adam Silver
Emmanuel College
Key features
  • Case studies from local, state, and presidential campaigns highlight the complex forces that affect campaign decisions and election outcomes and show readers the intricacies of campaign management
  • Five questions campaigns face provides a model for understanding what campaigns do
  • Diverse, in-depth, candid interviews with many of America’s leading influential political leaders who shape political outcomes at the local, state, and national levels give readers a real-world view of campaigns today
  • An appendix with a Campaign Manager Survey used by the authors in their own research facilitates classroom opportunities for students to meet, interview, and learn from local campaign professionals 

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

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