- Series: New Trends and Ideas in American Politics
- Hardcover: 253 pages
- Publisher: Praeger (April 6, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1440802572
- ISBN-13: 978-1440802577
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,665,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Margin of Victory: How Technologists Help Politicians Win Elections (New Trends and Ideas in American Politics)
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"[T]here is a plethora of knowledge here that will be useful for strategists, politicians, and academics who want to understand how technology was used in the past, how it is being used in the present, and how it should be used in the future." - Presidential Studies Quarterly
About the Author
Nathaniel G. Pearlman is the founder of NGP Software, Inc. (now NGP VAN, Inc.), a large firm that has assisted Democrats and their allies in fundraising, compliance, organizing tools, and new media since 1997. He has worked in the field of political technology for more than two decades, and is president of Timeplots, LCC, a creative analytic design and niche information enterprise.
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The large number of short chapters from experts in many different aspects of using technology to help win elections is both the book's strength and weakness. The strength is that the range of chapters provides a very comprehensive overview of the issues anyone interested in the topic should be aware of. The weakness is that each chapter gives little in the way of detail about what astute campaigners should actually do. It is great as a list of areas to think about; it doesn't provide a list of things to then go and do.
Many of the chapters also pay a lot of attention to the personal careers of their authors, painting a good picture of how the political consultancy profession works in the US, though not leaving much in the way of lessons about how to go and win. (Of course for more of that, I can point you in the direction of the book I co-wrote, 101 Ways To Win An Election.)
An important and consistent theme through the book is how technology, especially of the digital kind, is really still in its infancy in its applications to elections - and therefore simply trying to copy what someone else did a few years ago means you are bound to end up off the pace.
It is also good to see several of the authors point out that changing technology means adapting tactics, but doesn't mean abandoning all the old campaigning principles nor does it mean that politics is just about technology. Abraham Lincoln's advice is still good: "keep a constant watch on the doubtful voters". That applies just as much as it did for him in a world before computers and networks. Wise advice too is the analysis that ends the book,
"The heart of a great campaign resides where it ought to, with an animating idea and the character and competence of its standardbearer. The role played by political technologists is and should be a supporting one."