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The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up for Grabs - and Who Will Take It Hardcover – January 3, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230116469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230116467
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #745,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“There is much that is useful in Trende’s data-rich analysis, even (perhaps especially) for those put off by his conservative credentials… he reminds us that nothing is inevitable in American politics. Demographic advantage does not equal certain political victory.”—The New Republic


“Trende has developed a reputation as one of the country’s most promising younger political analysts. In this iconoclastic, detailed study, he takes on one of the most visible and widely supported theories in contemporary American politics…Trende makes a strong argument that American politics is surprisingly fluid and that the widespread belief in the existence of distinct eras—such as the New Deal era, from 1932 to 1968, or the era of Republican ascendance, from Richard Nixon through George W. Bush—does not hold up under close examination.”—Foreign Affairs

"A remarkably informative and insightful primer on American elections….Many of Trende’s topics would be fertile ground for an entire book, and I join Trende’s many fans in looking forward to his next one. When the time arrives to draw up the curriculum for the Walter Lippmann Pundit Training Academy — think clown college, but less amusing — Sean Trende’s book ought to be at the top of the reading list.”--The National Review

"If you read only one political book before the presidential election make it THE LOST MAJORITY . . . A provocative, original analysis of the coalitions that have shaped the past century's politics . . . The depth of research and incisive analysis displayed in THE LOST MAJORITY powerfully confirm Trende's status as a bright new star in the field." --Lousiville Courier-Journal

“Trende is persuasive in debunking realignment theory…on his main subject, the zig and zag of party politics, Trende is wholly convincing. He has a fi ne sense of exactly which item to select from his vast store of data to make his case. In American politics, every majority is in time a lost majority.”--Commentary

"A convincing, methodical assessment of historical coalition-building and its impact on contemporary politics . . . [an] impressive debut.”--The Weekly Standard

“Readable and logical…a fairly persuasive argument that our general assumptions about the implications of any given election are usually wrong…I heartily recommend The Lost Majority: particularly if you want to have a good idea how people have actually been voting for the last ninety years.”--RedState

"A brilliant critique of what we might call realignment thinking." --Reihan Salam, The National Review Online

“Sean is one of the best analysts in the political realm today because he looks for what the data actually says rather than what he wants it to say. The result is a book that will frustrate both Republican and Democratic activists because it does not foresee a realigning victory for either team. Well done!”—Scott Rasmussen, Founder and President, Rasmussen Reports

For about a half century, students of American politics, including myself, have been held captive by the theory of realignment. Every turnover of Congress or the White House has brought new predictions of a long-term majority. Sean Trende does a remarkably good job of trying to undermine this view of American politics. Anyone interested in where our elections are taking us—on the left or the right—would benefit from reading his book.”—John B. Judis, Senior Editor, The New Republic, and author of The Emerging Democratic Majority


“For years I thought there was nothing new to be found on the well-trodden ground of American political history over the last century. I was wrong. In The Lost Majority Sean Trende provides an original and convincing analysis of the politics of our past and a bracing look at where it can go in the future. Required reading for all political junkies.”—Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst, The Washington Examiner


“The last ten years of American politics have been a roller coaster that has confounded all the experts. Until now. In this groundbreaking book, Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics re-conceives the last 80 years of American history to explain persuasively why both the Republicans and Democrats have foundered, and what happens next to both sides. This one is a must-have for those with an interest in next year’s electoral battle!”—Jay Cost, The Weekly Standard


“This thoughtful, data-rich, well-argued book by Sean Trende makes a persuasive case: that dreams of a permanent electoral majority are destined to be dashed. Every president and his advisers dream the dream, that a temporary victory in one or two elections can somehow be transformed into one-party rule for eons. Free people in a republic won’t permit it, and economic cycles and other big events will eventually make fast work of political plans hatched in anybody’s Oval Office.”—Larry Sabato, author of A More Perfect Constitution

About the Author

Sean Trende is the senior elections analyst for and has one of the top track records in the industry for correctly predicting the outcome of elections. His work is regularly cited by commentators on both sides of the political spectrum, including Rush Limbaugh, David Brooks, Michael Barone, and Nate Silver. He is a regular guest on Fox News and makes regular radio appearances on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” CNN Radio, and FoxNews Radio. He lives in Midlothian, Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

It really is the most readable political science text out there, and very important to the current political climate.
Amazon Customer
Perhaps the most instructive part of this portion of the book is a wide-ranging 2007 survey of voters conducted by the Pew Research Group.
Paul Tognetti
If you're interested in politics or a political science or history major in college I would highly recommend reading it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It seems we hear the same discussion after nearly election cycle. The party that lost the election is about to consigned to the political scrap heap. The pundits tell us that the election was "transformative" and that a major political realignment is underway. Likewise, over the past 100 years countless books have been written touting historic realignments that supposedly took place or are about to unfold. Two prime examples of this would be Kevin Phillip's 1968 book "The Emerging Republican Majority" and John B Judis and Ruy Texiera's 2004 offering "The Emerging Democratic Majority". But according to author Sean Trende history has proven that this is simply not the case at all. His new book "The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government Is Up for Grabs--and Who Will Take It" makes an extremely convincing case that not only has this not been the case in the past but that realignment is even less likely to occur in the future.

In the Introduction to "The Lost Majority" Sean Trende hints at where this book is headed when he notes "When we clear out the muck dredged up by the realignment theorists and reexamine electoral history in a fresh light, we see scores of "lost majorities" littering the electoral landscape." Trende goes on to say that "voter coalitions in a broad, diverse country are inherently fragile. Issues that cause disparate groups to band together tend to fade quickly, while new issues arise that can put these groups at loggerheads." Time and again in "The Lost Majority" Trende presents examples of broad coalitions that inevitably splintered apart. All of this may come as a shock to partisan pundits like Chuck Todd and Karl Rove but a close examination of the facts seems to speak for themselves.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kavon W. Nikrad on January 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I strongly encourage anyone who is tired of the inane blathering of today's political pundits, and longs for insightful analysis and truly engaging writing, to purchase this book.

Sean Trende, who is the Senior Elections Analyst for, is one of the most startling talents to emerge onto America's political stage in ages. Possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of American elections, Mr. Trende is able to make connections and provide insights into electoral trends which lesser pundits are simply incapable of.

In "The Lost Majority", Mr. Trende explains how the dream of a permanent Democratic majority emerging from the 2008 election was an illusion, mainly because all political majorities/coalitions are transitory. What sets this book apart, however, is Mr. Trende's unique insights on demographics. Namely, how much of what you hear that is passed on as "known facts" regarding how racial/ethnic/economic groups vote is simply wrong.

Buy this book! I can promise that what you read will utterly change the way you view American politics. Not many electoral analysts are capable of this. But if you have read Mr. Trende in the past, you know that for him this is routine.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jordan Cunningham on January 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Written for the lay reader, but containing analysis worthy of a political science text, this book manages to be a number of things at once.

First, it is a convincing antidote to the fallacy of the Emerging Democratic Majority, and any other such work, which argues that one party or another is destined to dominate our national political landscape.

Second, it is an empirical survey of the political trends of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st. Rather than cherry-picking numbers to back his theory, Trende lets the data guide his analysis. In so doing, he turns much of conventional wisdom on its head. For example, FDR's continued expansion of government did not guarantee his later re-elections, rather it was his new status as a wartime leader. Reagan did not create a new coalition so much as rejuvenate Eisenhower's dormant one. Clinton's rebranding of the democrats as a party of fiscal rectitude and centrism led to electoral victory, but Obama's unraveling of this brand in his first two years in office led to the historic Republican gains in 2010.

Third, Trende's work advances and supports his own theory of the political universe. Politics in America is, was, and always will be fluid. Shifting coalitions are the norm. As a consequence, one simply cannot make accurate linear projections based on past results or demographic trends -- such projections invariably will be proven wrong. And this fluidity and ability to self-correct is what gives our democracy its resilience and durability. The future is an open book,and nothing is written.

This book will change your thinking about American politics. It will become a classic of the political genre.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Samuel J. Sharp on October 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In the "Lost Majority" Trende uses historical voting data to show that political coalitions are more tenuous than most people think, and that contrary to the claims of other researchers, there is no such thing as a permanent electoral majority. The first 62 pages cover 1920-2006 and focus on central issues such as FDR's coalition, the shift of southern voters to the GOP, and how Bill Clinton helped create a temporarily more centrist Democratic Party. The majority of the book focuses on 2008 and beyond, challenging some assumptions such as whether the Latino vote is really growing as fast as predicted, and whether it will be as left-leaning as some assume. Overall though, Trende admits that "this book offers no sexy prediction about what happen next in American politics" (p. 194). His conclusion is that election results will continue to swing wildly between Democratic and Republican victories in our era of open-field politics.

I would recommend this book only for readers interested in national politics so much that county-by-county results genuinely excite them. For most readers, I predict this book will seem a weakly organized, data-heavy, slow read. In fairness to Trende, his research is impressive and he does address other arguments persuasively, but concluding that politics is complicated and harder to predict than you thought leaves the reader feeling a bit empty. Trende has the benefit of hindsight in shooting down the theories of previous political prognosticators, so he should not take as much credit for debunking them as he seems to want to, especially since he dodges tough predictions himself. Most notably, the "Who Will Take It?" question from the subtitle is never answered, unless "no one" is a satisfactory answer.
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