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The Reasoning Voter: Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns 1st Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226675459
ISBN-10: 0226675459
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A fresh and subtle analysis of voter behavior."
(Thomas Byrne Edsall New York Review of Books)

"If you're preparing to run a presidential campaign, and only have time to read one book, make sure to read Sam Popkin's The Reasoning Voter. If you have time to read two books, read The Reasoning Voter twice."
(James Carville, Senior Stategist, Clinton/Gore '92) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

Packer with examples from the presidential campaign trails, 'The Reasoning Voter' is an insider's look at campaigns, candidates, media, and voters. Veteran Political consultant and political scientist Samuel Popkin arrives at a new model of the way voters sort through commercials and sound bites to choose a candidate. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (June 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226675459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226675459
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Popkin's work has survived the passage of time well since it originally was published, and it tells the tale of how voters really discern who to support. It is a classic work on charting and better understanding human behavior.

I recall a colleague describing how he was on the campaign trail in New Hampshire in 2004 for the presidential elections and knocking on a doors for a candidate. He knocked on one man's door and the voter said he would never support John Kerry. Why, my friend asked?? "Because, I am a veteran, and John Kerry once physically threw away his medals. For me, that says it all and is an unrecoverable act..."

Like his reasoning (or not), the voter took key facts or acts to try to discern John Kerry's character and core and worth - - this was an example of Samuel Popkin's findings and work in action. A great book!
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Format: Hardcover
The Reasoning Voter is an excellent refutation of the argument that the american public is simply too poorly informed to make reasonable political decisions. On the contrary, voters are quite able to make intelligent decisions through information shortcuts. In fact, the rational voter will use these shortcuts to make sense of the vast sea of political information available.
Popkin's presentation of his theory of low information rationality is conceptually rich enough for the expert, but clear enough for any reader. Rather than endless statistics, Popkin relies on historical examples which are often quite amusing. This is a must read for anyone interested in elections.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Reasoning Voter is wonderful analysis of how voters gather information on candidates for political office. While it is a bit dated (2nd edition published in 1994) Dr. Popkin's discussion of "low-information rationality" helps explain voter's behavior even today.

With the explosion of electronic communities on the Internet and the impact of 24 hour news channels, an updated 3rd edition would be most welcome. Indeed, during my entire time reading I constantly wondered how Dr. Popkin would view these two recent phenomenon's.

While The Reasoning Voter might be too dry a text for the average reader, any student of political science and some hard core political junkies will find this edition worthwhile. I found chapter 6, on primaries, to be especially informative and chapters 7 thru 9 (plus 11 in the 2nd edition) on the primaries of 1976, 1980, 1984 and 1992 to be significant from a historical sense.
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Format: Paperback
Popkin argues that the public is not as uninformed as we are lead to believe. The media would have us think that Joe Sixpack is more familiar with Joe Camel than Joe Biden. That might be, but that does not mean that they cannot reach smart decisions. They can reach decisions that would be similar to those that they would reach had they been fully informed. They can do this through the use of shortcuts. A shortcut could be the movement of the DOW or their price of gas, but what must happen is that the shortcut must be relevant for the person's life. The shortcut must be something they can link to politics based on their experience. These shortcuts can be misguided, but more often than not they work to advance the interests of those using the shortcut. This is a good book, which is not too ivory tower to avoid it being accessible for most readers. So get it and enjoy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book describes in great detail everything that you could possibly want to know about presidential primaries and the general elections. Popkin does a wonderful job in breaking down the politics behind presidential campaigns. The only problem with it is that it is horribly written, which seriously detracts from the overall message. It is way too dense to be considered as the masterpiece which the other amazon reviewers claim it to be.

I am a true believer that for ANY book to be a five star book, the reader should not have to suffer through its prose. I suffered through this book, despite the fact that the content was terribly interesting. Maybe next time he writes a book, he can work together with one of his contemporaries who can actually write.

I have read thousands of books and this was one of the ones that I found to be the most troubling... Part brilliant, part horrible.... that just does not happen every day.
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