Cover image for The American campaign : U.S. presidential campaigns and the national vote
The American campaign : U.S. presidential campaigns and the national vote
Campbell, James E., 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
College Station : Texas A&M University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xxii, 314 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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JK528 .C36 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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These bold arguments, based on careful, reflective analysis of campaigns and previous studies of them, refute both the common wisdom of political scientists that campaigns do not matter and the implied belief of journalists, evidenced by their reporting every four years, that little else matters.

In this compelling culmination of ten years of work in this field, James E. Campbell offers "the theory of the predictable campaign", incorporating the fundamental conditions that systematically affect the presidential vote: political competition, presidential incumbency, and election-year economic conditions.

Campbell's cogent thinking and clear style present students with a readable survey of presidential elections and political scientists' ways of studying them. The book also shows how and why journalists have mistakenly assigned a pattern of unpredictability and critical significance to the vagaries of individual campaigns.

This excellent election-year text provides a summary and assessment of the serious,predictive models of presidential election outcomes, a historical summary of many of America's important presidential elections, and a significant new contribution to the understanding of presidential campaigns and how and why they matter.

Every four years, the presidential campaign is the focal point of American politics. The American Campaign, sure to fascinate political scientists and historians, will also be of enduring importance to all voters who have a vested interest in this distinctively American political process.

Author Notes

James E. Campbell is a professor of political science at the University at Buffalo, SUNY.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Campbell, a political science professor, argues that presidential campaigns do affect election results in a systematic, predictable way. Although these effects are constrained (by voters' partisanship, economic conditions, incumbency, and competition), Campbell gives post^-Labor Day campaigns credit, on average, for four percentage points' impact on the national vote, with the campaigns decisive in two of the last 13 elections (1948 and 1960). Over a longer period, campaigns have played a critical role in 20 percent of presidential races. Campbell describes the systematic and unsystematic effects of campaigns on both local and national levels; uses statistical analysis to challenge the notion that Americans are becoming less partisan; and suggests that campaigns exert much of their effect by influencing the partisanship of late-deciding voters. Larger libraries where serious studies of politics circulate will want to consider this thoughtful entry in the current debate over whether U.S. political campaigns matter and, if so, how much and why. --Mary Carroll

Choice Review

Readers looking for a narrative history of presidential campaigns will not find that information here. Campbell (Univ. of Buffalo, SUNY), author of The Presidential Pulse of Congressional Elections (CH, Apr'94) and other books, offers the theory of "the predictable campaign." That is, campaigns do matter, despite the contention of many political scientists. Of course campaigns matter; ask Harry Truman. The elections examined center on those contests between 1948 and 1996, with emphasis beginning in 1960; polling data used for examination are available. Front runners usually win, but the reason might prove useful. Campbell's theory shows that campaign effects are "systematic and predictable." He demonstrates that (1) effects are limited, (2) the circumstances are in place, (3) vigorous campaigning narrows the gap between candidates. Polling statistics drive the message of this book, but the "why" of decision is often elusive. Chapter 7 presents a succinct summary. This volume is not for the casual reader--of the 314 pages, 204 are devoted to text, the remaining 110 deal with explanatory material. Recommended for graduate students, faculty, and professionals. S. L. Harrison; University of Miami

Table of Contents

List of Figuresp. x
List of Tablesp. xi
Prefacep. xv
Introductionp. xix
1. The Impact of Presidential Campaignsp. 3
2. The Theory of the Predictable Campaignp. 28
3. Studying the Effects of Campaignsp. 51
4. The Stable Context of the Campaignp. 79
5. Presidents in the Campaignp. 101
6. The Economic Context of the Campaignp. 126
7. The Normal Course of the Campaignp. 140
8. Electoral Competition and Unsystematic Campaign Effectsp. 163
9. How Campaigns Matterp. 186
Epilogue: The 2000 Campaignp. 201
Appendix A Partisanship in the American Electoratep. 207
Appendix B Time of the Vote Decision and Partisan Loyaltyp. 219
Notesp. 235
Referencesp. 285
Indexp. 297