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Is This Any Way to Run a Democratic Election?

Is This Any Way to Run a Democratic Election?

Fifth Edition

July 2013 | 280 pages | CQ Press

The 2012 election is over, but the debate over the fairness and accuracy of our electoral system continues. The courts are dealing with the alleged discriminatory impact of voter ID requirements on minority voters; privacy and vote manipulation are concerns as political campaigns utilize new technology to target voters; the news media are contending with harsh public criticism of their elections coverage; the campaign finance floodgates were opened with vast resources spent on negative advertising; and the Electoral College continues to undermine a national, democratic electoral system—Is this any way to run a democratic election?

This fully updated fifth edition answers that important question by looking at both recent events and recent scholarship focused on the democratic electoral process, including new data and timely illustrations from the 2012 elections.

1. Democratic Elections: What’s the Problem?
2. Popular Base of American Electoral Politics
3. How Representative Are American Elections?
4. Has Money Corrupted Our Electoral Process?
5. News Media: Watchdog or Pit Bull?
6. Are American Parties Still Representative?
7. The Nomination Process: Whose Is It Anyway?
8. Campaign Communications: How Much Do They Matter?
9. Elections and Government: A Tenuous Connection

“One of the reasons I like Wayne’s book as a supplement is that I always have students do class debates on reforms to the electoral system, and this book fit in well with that because not only does it speak directly to critical thinking about the system, it also has suggestions about debate topics. Wayne does a good job of writing succinctly and clearly. His framing of everything as a controversy or question, helps students focus on what the big issues are, and the concluding ‘now it’s your turn’ elements help provoke critical thinking.”

Todd Schaefer
Central Washington University

“I think Is This Any Way to Run a Democratic Election? is an accessible book and can be taught on many levels, which is key. You can use this book in an introductory or upper-division course. I think the book is extremely well written and really great for many levels of pedagogy.”

Christina Greer
Fordham University – Lincoln Center
Key features


  • Insightful discussion of voter turnout and voting trends and their impact on the representative character of the electorate.
  • Provocative questions concerning private funding and unlimited contributions and their influence on election outcomes.
  • Advances in communications technology including discussion of its implementation, cost, and impact on elections.
  • Evolving sources of campaign news and the spin it generates.
  • The impact of increasing partisanship and the demise of the independent voter, as well as candidate debates and how they affect voting.
  • The difficulty of transforming a winning electoral coalition into a governing majority.


  • Addresses the challenges of the American election system by answering tough questions and grappling with the disparity between the ideal and the practical.
  • Emphasizes the changes in the electoral environment and the elections themselves.
  • Opens each chapter with a litany of facts that nurture debate and encourage students to question the conventional wisdom.
  • Ends each chapter with a critical thinking section that features discussion questions, topics for debate, research-oriented exercises, and suggested online resources.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

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