Cover image for Missed opportunity : Gore, incumbency, and television in election 2000
Missed opportunity : Gore, incumbency, and television in election 2000
Dover, E. D. (Edwin D.), 1946-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, [2002]

Physical Description:
203 pages ; 24 cm
Presidential elections in the television age -- Elections with surrogate incumbents -- campaigns for the party nominations : 1999 -- campaign for the party nominations : 2000 -- general election campaign between March and August -- general election campaign between August and November -- general election : outcome and meaning -- Selected bibliography -- Index.
Reading Level:
1400 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JK526 2000 .D68 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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While the 2000 presidential election had a number of unique features, including the decisive role of the Supreme Court, it actually was quite similar to three earlier television-age campaigns. For the fourth time since 1960, an incumbent president retired and his party nominated the vice president as a potential successor. The nomination of the vice president has become so commonplace that we now expect it. Unfortunately, we lack theoretical explanations of why vice presidents win nominations while often losing the general election. Dover seeks to advance this needed theory.

Dover looks at the recurring features of television-age elections with surrogate incumbents and applies them to a description of the leading events of Election 2000. The emphasis is on mediated incumbency, a phenomenon that occurs when mass media, particularly television, exert enormous influence in defining the context and meaning of politics for most voters. The first topics considered are the growth of the modern vice presidency and the nature of surrogate incumbent elections. The outcome of such elections often turns on how effectively the vice president and his opponent overcome dilemmas unique to their strategic positions as incumbent or challenger. Dover then describes the campaign from January 1999 through December 2000, from the perspective of television news media, and shows how Gore failed to overcome his dilemma during a time marked by peace and prosperity. The text is an important resource for scholars, students, and other researchers involved with American elections, political communication, and the American presidency.

Author Notes

E. D. DOVER is Professor of Political Science, Public Policy and Administration at Western Oregon University. He is the author of Presidential Elections in the Television Age (Praeger, 1994) and The Presidential Election of 1996 (Praeger, 1998).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In two previous studies--Presidential Elections in the Television Age: 1960-1992 (CH, Nov'94) and The Presidential Election of 1996: Clinton's Incumbency and Television (CH, Mar'99)--Dover (Western Oregon Univ.) has focused on the electoral and media advantages enjoyed by presidential incumbents. In this study he introduces the concept of surrogate incumbency. Since 1960, seven vice-presidents have won their party's presidential nomination but only two of these surrogate incumbents have managed to win the White House. Why? Dover's argument is that candidate choices and electoral outcomes are mediated by "the political strength of incumbency and the manner in which news media, particularly television, interpret that strength and transmit it to their audiences." Perhaps the book should have been titled Missed Opportunities since Dover shows how both Gore and Bush "failed to mask the dilemmas each found that were unique to their positions of [surrogate] incumbent and challenger." This is both a well-written analysis of the critical institutional and electoral role played by vice presidents and an interesting enlargement on the concept of candidate-centered presidential elections. Highly recommended at all levels. E. C. Dreyer emeritus, University of Tulsa

Table of Contents

1. Presidential Elections in the Television Agep. 1
2. Elections with Surrogate Incumbentsp. 29
3. The Campaigns for the Party Nominations: 1999p. 49
4. The Campaigns for the Party Nominations: 2000p. 75
5. The General Election Campaign between March and Augustp. 109
6. The General Election Campaign between August and Novemberp. 133
7. The General Election: Outcome and Meaningp. 159
Selected Bibliographyp. 189
Indexp. 199