A game changer for campaign reporting

The Gamble by John Sides & Lynn Vavreck
Game Change 2012 by John Heilemann & Mark Halperin

… Modern campaign journalism was born the day Theodore White published “The Making of the President 1960.” White was the first to frame a campaign as a novel, portraying the candidates as protagonists, campaign staff as supporting characters, and various campaign decisions and events as crucial plot points.

Sides and Vavreck’s book is an overdue corrective. They weren’t embedded in a campaign or buddies with top strategists. They don’t usher you inside the room. But they have something that campaign reporters lack: data. Lots and lots and lots of it. …

Sides and Vavreck’s data led to what might be called the Slim Charles theory of presidential elections, so named for the character on HBO’s “The Wire,” who said, “Game’s the same. Just got more fierce.” …

Campaigns are less successful at persuading undecided voters than they are at encouraging their own partisans to grow more fierce. The manic charges and countercharges of an election mostly remind voters which side they were on to begin with. “Strengthening people’s natural partisan predispositions is one of the most consistent effects of presidential campaigns,” Sides and Vavreck write. “Democrats or Republicans who at the start of the campaign feel a bit uncertain or unenthusiastic about their party’s nominee will end up dedicated supporters.” CONT.

Ezra Klein, Washington Post