Nearly fifty years ago, Theodore H. White revolutionized the political reporting of presidential campaigns with The Making of the President 1960. While by no means a complete narrative history, and largely reflective of the Kennedy campaign perspective, it remains a classic of the genre.
White followed that work with The Making of the President 1964 and The Making of the President 1968, and many subsequent campaigns have yielded a similar post mortem (for example, Jules Witcover’s Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency 1972-1976).
Among the most interesting aspects of this genre of political campaign reporting is the degree to which changing technology, trends in media and message, and the evolving political context have altered the American presidential campaign over the course of the intervening five decades.
In The Way It Really Works in the New Republic, Thomas Edsall reviews the latest, yet very different, addition to this tradition: Kate Kenski, Bruce W. Hardy and Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s The Obama Victory: How Media, Money, and Message Shaped the 2008 Election.
As Edsall explains, the book draws heavily upon voter data available from the National Annenberg Election Survey and interviews with key advisors to each campaign, with an eye toward illuminating how media, money, and messages shaped the course of the 2008 election.