Four reasons it’s hard to campaign your way to the presidency

The narrative after the 2012 campaign was that President Obama’s victory was due to his superior campaign — better messaging, better technology, better organizing, better everything. But this narrative had a circular logic to it: Obama won because of his superior campaign, and we know that his campaign was superior because he won.

Several initial forays into the data on advertising and field offices suggest a much more qualified conclusion: yes, campaigning did matter, but it was not decisive in 2012. …

In this post, I build on some previous work for Wonkblog and work with Lynn Vavreck for our book on the 2012 campaign, The Gamble. I’ll briefly explore 4 reasons why it is hard for all that money — in particular the ads and field organization, or what I’ll call “campaign activity” — to be the “game-changer” it is so often made out to be. [cont.]

John Sides (George Washington U.), Washington Post