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How Barack Obama Won: A State-by-State Guide to the Historic 2008 Presidential Election Paperback – January 6, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

From NBC's political director and elections director. Readers who pick this up for, say, a quick check of McCain's margin of victory in Montana will find themselves tempted to embark on a full cross-country trip through these pages. States here are divided into four categories: "Battleground States," "Receding Battleground States," "Emerging Battleground States," and "Red and Blue States" (not clear why that wasn't two separate lists). Entries are from two to five pages long, more for states in flux than the true Blue or Red ones, with a clear format of both textual and tabular information on the state's 2008 presidential choice, its party support in the past, and what to keep an eye on in future elections. A final section of tables analyzing the 2008 electorate is fascinating. For all interested readers.—MH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Chuck Todd is NBC News political director, chief White House correspondent for NBC, and a contributing editor to "Meet the Press". He also serves as NBC News' on-air political analyst for "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams," "Today," "Meet the Press," and such MSNBC programs as "Morning Joe," and "Hardball with Chris Matthews." Before joining NBC News, Todd was editor-in-chief of National Journal's "The Hotline," Washington's premier daily briefing on America politics. He has also written Op-Ed pieces for The New York Times and the Washington Post and for the Atlantic Monthly, where he is a contributing editor. He teaches a graduate political communications course at Johns Hopkins University.Sheldon Gawiser is NBC director of elections; he heads the NBC News election decision team in charge of making projections and overseeing news analysis of the exit polls. He was a founder of the NBC/Associated Press Poll and is a trustee of the National Council on Public Polls. Dr. Gawiser, in addition to being a pollster extraordinaire, is an Emmy nominated producer and winner of a special Emmy for his work on September 11th. He is author of five books and numerous articles on public opinion polling and elections, including A Journalist's Guide to Public Opinion Polls (Praeger, 1994).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; English Language edition (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030747366X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307473660
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,153,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you're interested in the voting characteristics of the states, then you'll really like this book. Todd and Geiser give a pretty objective re-cap of the primary and general election campaigns in the introduction, and then go state-by-state, grouping them into "battlegrounds," "receding battlegrounds," "emerging battlegrounds," and "red/blue" states. Democrats will enjoy this more than Republicans, since the authors continually point out the demographic and ideological trends that are moving in the democrats favor. To their credit, though, they point out how this movement may be unique to this election or ultimately unsustainable, and does point out republican advantages in certain areas.

Mostly, the analysis is spot on, and they reveal some interesting characteristics and patterns that even a junkie like me didn't catch. Still, I have a couple issues with their analysis.

First, the youth vote. The authors say it was "overrated" for the most part and only made the difference in 2 states. They say this due to the fact that their turnout rate only increased by 1%, which didn't meet the inflated expectations of some. However, Obama won this vote by 66-32. No prior candidate, in the history of exit polling, EVER won any age cohort by such a large margin. The closest was Reagan in 1984, but by 20, not 34 points. Clearly, this indicates that republicans have some extremely serious problems with younger people that have only gotten worse since 2000. George W. Bush may have turned an entire generation away from his party.

Second, the 5 "emerging" battleground states. Georgia, Nebraska, and Texas don't belong here. If Obama couldn't win GA in this environment, there is little chance for democrats down the road. GA has been trending red the last decade.
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Format: Paperback
Todd and Gawiser provide a very insightful examination of the 2008 presidential campaign. The book includes two basic sections: an introduction which has overall analysis of the `08 primaries and general election, and the aforementioned state by state compilation of general election results. More than a post mortem on the historic campaign that just ended, the book includes many lessons for 2012 and the future of U.S. political party alignment.

Written by two noted "numbers guys", I expected the book might be a little dry, but was pleasantly surprised by how Todd and Gawiser were able to make the demographic and polling data they provide come alive with shrewd, sometimes even humorous, analysis. I especially enjoyed their tongue-in-cheek captions (such as "Greatest Side Show on Earth", "Georgia: A Battleground on My Mind"). There's also lots of really interesting tidbits of inside information from the campaigns sprinkled throughout. Overall, How Barack Obama Won is a terrific read for anyone interested in politics.
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Format: Paperback
If you paid attention to Chuck Todd during the primaries and general election, as you well should have, many of the notions in his and Gawiser's book will sound familiar. All of that is gathered here in one well-written, no-nonsense analysis that as usual, doesn't fail to fascinate. Even though we know the end result, you're sure to learn some aspects of the voting that may surprise you and where the conventional wisdom did and did not hold up.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is a handy reference volume for one who wants the statistics and numbers on Obama's victories...It is not a book
one would read for inside stories, campaign gossip, or even theories of what these victories hold for the democratic (small 'd' as well as large)
of the American Democracy, (small d as well as large)
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Format: Paperback
In the rush to get Obama books out before the inauguration, "A Long Time Coming" and "How Barack Obama Won" stand up to more scrutiny than most. Mr. Todd's and Mr. Gawisier's book is both a micro and macro look at the 2008 election. The book starts out slow, making the claim that 2008 could signal the end of `20 years of political chaos' as the authors put it. One may find this to be a rather dubious claim because the facts bear out that since 1988, Republicans have won three out of the last five Presidential elections and since 1994 to 2006 have dominated both houses of Congress. Despite this rather slow start, the authors then analyze the early part of the election, in which the early `frontrunners' struggle to find a message, and, in turn, opened themselves up to insurgency candidates. The simple fact of the matter is that someone had to win the Republican nomination, and the candidate that made the least amount of mistakes ultimately did that. Giuliani focused too much on Florida. Huckabee didn't have enough centrist pull, and Romney appeared to be insincere, and by process of elimination, you had John McCain. Since his campaign essentially did nothing right except be the last person standing, by the time he met Obama, it was almost a fait accompli that his campaign was doomed. On the other hand, after fighting off the Clinton machine from Iowa to Puerto Rico to California, the Obama campaign was battle tested and ready. The authors stress that the Obama candidacy was not a fait accompli against Clinton, but Obama took advantage of the fact that the Democractic primaries had proportional awarding of delegates based on the voting, so after Super Tuesday it just came down to a matter of cold hard arithmetic that eventually doomed the Clinton campaign.Read more ›
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