ELECTION TUESDAY

FACT: “Upon his inauguration, Obama was in a position somewhat similar to Ronald Reagan’s in 1980. Both took office when Americans were pessimistic about the economy and dissatisfied with the incumbent president. In a late November 1980 Gallup poll, only 31% of Americans approved of the job Jimmy Carter was doing. At the same point in time in 2008, only 29% approved of George W. Bush.”

“The Hand You’re Dealt” from The Gamble:
Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election

by John Sides & Lynn Vavreck

“The Hand You’re Dealt” is the first of a series of free eBook preview chapters from John Sides and Lynn Vavreck’s groundbreaking Fall 2013 book, The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election. These eBook chapters are scheduled to be released between August and December 2012.

What are the odds that Barack Obama will be reelected in November, despite a weak economy? Many answers to this question are backed by little more than speculation and spin. But what does current and historical data—and political science—suggest? In this chapter, political analysts John Sides and Lynn Vavreck show that Obama is surprisingly popular given the state of the economy, and they offer several explanations—including Obama’s likability and the fact that more people blame George W. Bush for the country’s economic problems than blame Obama. But Sides and Vavreck also show that the mixed economic picture and the events of Obama’s first term make it likely that the election will be close. These are just some of the points that Sides and Vavreck make in this incisive chapter as they gauge the most important factors in the political and economic landscape going into the election campaign—and what they portend for Obama’s (and Mitt Romney’s) chances.

This book represents an unprecedented effort to use a “Moneyball” approach to tell the story of what promises to be a dramatic election campaign, drawing on large quantities of data about the economy, public opinion, news coverage, and political advertising to determine the factors that really make a difference. At the same time, Sides and Vavreck will be visiting the campaign trail to find out what matters most to both of the campaigns and to voters. The result promises to be the only book about the election that combines on-the-ground reporting, social science, and quantitative data in order to look beyond the anecdote, folklore, and conventional wisdom that too often pass for analysis of presidential elections.

To find out more, download this chapter and begin reading the authors’ special introduction to this and the other free chapters that will follow as the election campaign unfolds.

The Gamble is scheduled to be published as a complete print and ebook in September 2013.

Be sure to check in every Tuesday for a new tidbit from our great selection of politically-minded books.