"High Rollers" is a free eBook preview chapter from John Sides and Lynn Vavreck's groundbreaking Fall 2013 book, The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election in the 2012 Presidential Election.
Picking up where the third chapter, "All In," left off, "High Rollers" continues the dramatic story of the 2012 campaign into the summer. As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney began to face off directly, the contest was now down to two well financed and seasoned campaigners--"high rollers" playing the game of presidential politics at the highest level and putting everything on the table. With the race close in the polls, Obama and Romney began to place big and sometimes risky bets to change the dynamics of the race and establish a substantial lead. In combative ads and speeches, Obama tried to depict Romney as a rich, out-of-touch, and insensitive businessman. Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate, potentially signaling an unexpected shift in message from Obama's handling of the economy to a debate about the size of government and the national debt. But despite such high-stakes bets, the candidates were so equally matched that they largely played to a draw over the summer, and there was no net change in the polls between the beginning of May and the end of August. As Sides and Vavreck tell the story of the summer, they explain why such stability is actually typical of the competitive environment of presidential campaigns.
The Gamble tells the story of the election--with a big difference. Using an unusual "moneyball" approach, Sides and Vavreck look beyond the anecdote, folklore, and conventional wisdom that often pass for election analysis. Instead, they draw on extensive quantitative data about the economy, public opinion, news coverage, and political advertising to separate what actually made a difference in the contest--and what was just hype. Combining this data with the best social science research and colorful on-the-ground reporting, they look at the interplay between the candidates' strategic choices--the ads, speeches, rallies, and debates--and the chance circumstances of the election, especially the economy. The most accurate and precise account of the election yet written, and the only book of its kind, The Gamble is a must-read for political junkies, analysts, journalists, consultants, and academics.
John Sides is associate professor of political science at George Washington University and the coauthor of Campaigns and Elections (Norton). He cofounded and contributes to The Monkey Cage, a politics blog. Lynn Vavreck is associate professor of political science and communications at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her books include The Message Matters: The Economy and Presidential Campaigns (Princeton). She cofounded and contributes to the Model Politics blog.
Another Princeton e-Book preview chapter authored or coauthored by John Sides:
Other Princeton books authored by Lynn Vavreck: