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The Obama Victory: How Media, Money, and Message Shaped the 2008 Election 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195399561
ISBN-10: 0195399560
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Scholars Kate Kenski, Bruce Hardy, and Kathleen Jamieson analyze the 2008 presidential campaign and the images the candidates evoked either through deliberate engineering or public and media reaction: the inexperienced neophyte who might be a Muslim; the aged and erratic candidate whose choice of a vice-presidential partner showed poor judgment. In part 1, the authors offer statistical analysis of polling data showing the declining popularity of President Bush and the prospects of the presidential candidates as the economy worsened, tempered with revealing commentary from focus groups. Part 2 analyzes the momentum of the campaigns through the debates and the days leading up to the election. Finally, the authors offer an analysis of the successful Obama campaign, how a young, untested senator with a very different biography than most presidential candidates managed to win and how early voting campaigns, microtargeting, and the strategy of rejecting federal election financing impacted the election. Despite the very heavy emphasis on statistics, the excerpts and detailed analysis from interview transcripts are very revealing and offer nuanced perspective on the election and implications for future elections. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"The Obama Victory: How Media, Money and Message Shaped the 2008 Election is smart, groundbreaking and full of surprises. Despite all that's been written about the 2008 campaign, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Bruce Hardy and Kate Kenski have produced fresh, conclusive evidence of how rhetoric, themes, and unprecedented campaign spending--plus the Palin factor--explain the historic outcome. Sharply written and brilliantly documented, this is the book for anyone interested in politics."--Andrea Mitchell, NBC News

"This book aims for an audience that includes, but is much wider than, the academic reader. It is much more a "fun read" than most scholarly books, in part because it incorporates the perspectives of campaign professionals along with anecdotes from the campaign trail. Some of these anecdotes will be familiar to readers, but many will be new and fascinating to any political junkie...Anyone who wants a better understanding of the outcome of the historic 2008 presidential race should read this book."--Political Communication

"A scrupulous and revealing analysis of the 2008 presidential election campaigns...This volume is not for the politically faint of heart, but The Obama Victory likely will be viewed in the future as the go-to source for a comprehensive perspective on the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States...The rigorous dependence on data is impressive. Overall, The Obama Victory is a lively and enlightening perspective on the 2008 election."--International Journal of Communication

"Excellent and comprehensive...the book offers a data-rich and extremely well-written account of the 2008 election. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a book that is more comprehensive in scope...Reading the book is almost like reliving the campaign month-by-month."--Journal of Mass Communication Education

"This book provides critical documentation about the historic 2008 campaign. Summing Up: Highly recommended."--CHOICE

"Fifty years from now scholars studying how Barack Obama overcame the odds of winning the 2008 election may turn to this impeccably researched book with its detailed regressions of the impact of various factors on voter decisions. They will find a wealth of data, charts, and graphs; meticulous explanations of methodology; and carefully drawn conclusions."--Communication Research Trends

"The most comprehensive book on the topic to date...Kenski, Hardy, and Jamieson have done more than simply document one campaign. They provide a model for how presidential campaigns should be studied by communication scholars."--Southern Communication Journal

"The best analysis of a presidential election in 60 years. Jamieson and her colleagues have set a new standard for analyzing campaign effects on voting and mobilization. A game changer for scholars, pundits and strategists."--Samuel Popkin, Professor of Political Science, University of California-San Diego

"The rich data and analysis in this book provide the fullest account to date not only of campaign and media effects in one of the most exciting elections in American history but of how to think about these effects into the decades ahead."--Robert Shapiro, co-author of Politicians Don't Pander

"This book could transform the way we understand presidential campaigns. The Obama Victory...could force a major shift in the financing of campaign coverage."--Thomas B. Edsall, The New Republic


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195399560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195399561
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steven Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
A solid analysis of the factors associated with the outcome of the 2008 presidential election.

Some of the features worth noting: The book begins by discussing a central characteristic of the election--the strategic environment. Here, the effects of the tanking economy and candidate evaluations (McCain too old? Obama too inexperienced?) are covered nicely. There is a pretty good analysis of the effects of vice presidential candidates on the election. A pretty even handed evaluation of Palin and Biden.

The book's heart is an analysis of five periods during the campaign--from June through Mid-August, when McCain showed some momentum; late August through early September, when the vice presidential issues emerged; the campaigns and the economic collapse from September 10 through October 14; the McCain surge just before the election; the weakening of that surge at the end.

The final segment of the book examines some new wrinkles--such as the effect of early voting, campaign spending differences, and the impact of messages.

All in all, a solid examination of the election, pretty much as one would expect from this team of researchers.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a technical book that probes the specific patterns and streams of influence in the 2008 US Presidential Election Campaign. The authors analyze specific campaign strategies and media campaigns in regard to polls and ultimate votes, buy all the demographic categories available.

One could get bogged down in this book, due to the fascinating and masterful presentation and control of the details. And the charts and numbers, complicated by the multiple demographic categories, will deter or discouraged some readers who might otherwise be interested in the streams and themes of the Obama-McCain campaign.

But the charts and graphs, while helpful to visualize that patterns and waves of influence and change through the months of the election campaign, can easily be passed over without impeding the value of the text.

These three authors make a seamless team to weave a complex tapestry of the forces and floods of media by both parties. It does get tedious, but you can make progress by taking advantage of the many and frequent headings and sub-headings guiding the reader through the 314p text. Additional careful documentation is included, adding a section of endnotes that provide further context and sourcing documentation.

The upshot of this careful study is that the way media was used and the amount of media exposure was indeed a major factor affecting the attitude and inclination of voters in every segment. The authors provide clear explanations of what demographic groups were most swayed by what kinds of themes or what type of media.

One aspect that won't surprise the observant reader is the key role lies ( to be blunt about it), otherwise referred too as deception or falsehood, used by both candidate teams and parties in their ads.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a book you will love if you are a politics junkie. I probably I have some tendencies in that direction since this is the third book I've read on the Obama victory. Compared to THE BRIDGE by David Remnick and RENEGADE by Richard Wolfe, it does not focus on personalities. People who do not adore Obama will certainly find it less painful reading than the other two books. Personally, I liked the way David Remnick's book put Obama's victory in historical context, emphasizing the change in racial attitudes that made it possible. That book was moving. This isn't. You are not going to read THE OBAMA VICTORY and feel all warm and fuzzy inside if you voted for the guy.

What we have here a smart, statistical analysis of polling data from the Obama-McCain race (not the primaries). It addresses questions such as these: What messages worked in tilting the attitudes of particular groups (let's say, white women who are not college graduates)? Did Palin really hurt McCain? How much, and with whom? Did Biden help Obama? What was the impact of the economic melt-down? What speeches, what interviews, hurt or helped the candidates? There are tables. There are graphs. You can see how much, exactly, Palin's Couric interview hurt, and with which voters. If you like this kind of thing--I sort of do--you'll like this. If you are more interested in the broad sweep of history or what made the candidates tick, you'll probably prefer reading Remnick, unless of course you're a Republican (he is certainly pro-Obama).

The impact of money on the race--particularly the ability of candidates with big bucks to target small demographic groups in crucial geographic areas--"microtargeting"--is examined at length. The analysis is not pretty. Obama greatly outspent McCain.
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Format: Paperback
If you're the kind of person who loves poring over a table showing how public answers to a particular survey question change from week to week over a campaign, I'm sure you'll find this book fascinating. I'm not one of those people, and I'm writing this review for other people who aren't.

If you followed the news during the campaign, you've already seen the basic story line and ideas here. The authors recap the election and the main campaign themes of both sides such as "McSame" and "Not Ready to Lead." Much of their data tries to track which themes work, which ones don't, and how they influenced public opinion over time. There isn't anything approaching a theory here, which means there isn't any real causal explanation of anything that happened. The narrative is driven by data, debates, speeches, gaffes, and other campaign events.

The main analytical structure of the narrative divides events into five periods. In the first, McCain gains ground by emphasizing petroleum development as a response to high gas prices. The second is dominated by the vice presidential selections. The third is dominated by the economic collapse, which the authors date to September. The fourth is McCain's last surge, followed by the final week in which voters seem reassured by Obama.

They want to argue that campaign messages make a significant difference in the outcome of the election. Certainly these messages seem to influence the day-to-day ups and downs, but it's not obvious that they affect the outcome: voters reject incumbents at time of economic collapse. It's also not clear what the counterfactual is (what if candidates had sent different messages) or what explains the messages.
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