"Every political pundit should be required to read this book before covering the 2016 campaign."
(Ryan Lizza New Yorker, Ten Best Political Books of 2012
“This is an important, original book by accomplished political scientists at the top of their game. Robert S. Erikson and Christopher Wlezien have addressed a central question in the study of presidential elections—to what extent do the actual campaigns matter?—and provided an account of election dynamics that anyone with a passing knowledge of presidential elections can understand, but whose technical sophistication will be appreciated by political scientists. The Timeline of Presidential Election Campaigns will be regarded as a landmark by the presidential research community.”
(Gary C. Jacobson, University of California, San Diego)
Americans have long been fascinated with presidential election campaigns and the polls that accompany them. Each time a new poll is released, we interpret it as indicating something real about the rising or falling fortunes of candidates—and assume these changes have implications for what happens on election day. With ambitious and insightful scholarship, Robert S. Erikson and Christopher Wlezien offer a striking critique of these assumptions, issuing a startling wake-up call that suggests much of the tremendous effort—and money—spent during campaigns may in fact be a waste. Any candidate interested in winning an election should read this book, as should anyone interested in truly understanding voters.
(Jon Krosnick, Stanford University)
“What do voters make of presidential campaigns? Do they update their beliefs about the best candidate as campaigns progress? Or are their minds made up before the campaigns have even started? . . . Robert S. Erikson and Christopher Wlezien have done an excellent service in writing about how voters react to campaigns, and future research on the way in which presidential campaigns shape election outcomes would be well advised to ground their work in what Erikson and Wlezien have accomplished.”
(Political Science Quarterly
“A comprehensive and most convincing exercise. Robert S. Erikson and Christopher Wlezien lay bare the macro-dynamics of modern American presidential elections. They show how the outcomes of these elections can be predicted, and why. In their explanation of the “why,” the critical role of the campaign reveals itself. . . . Anyone seriously interested in presidential election campaigns and forecasting cannot do without it.”
(Congress and the Presidency
“Erikson and Wlezien bring the tools of time series analysis to bear on the fundamental tension that haunts every scholar, reporter, or consultant trying to understand the effects of campaigns: how much of the final outcome is determined by what the candidates do (or what happens to them) in the weeks leading up to the election and how much is driven by the things out of their control. . . . If you study presidential politics or time series analyses, there is a lot to like in Timeline. The connection between the method and the substance is close and tight, which makes this book a great example of how the right method can help illustrate important nuances in the substance of a problem. . . . But by far, the most important contribution the book makes is to illustrate that presidential campaigns matter in predictable ways.”
(Perspectives on Politics
About the Author
Robert S. Erikson is professor of political science at Columbia University and the author or coauthor of several books, including The Macro Polity. Christopher Wlezien is professor of political science at Temple University and coauthor of Degrees of Democracy, among other books.