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Inside Campaigns

Inside Campaigns
Elections through the Eyes of Political Professionals

March 2016 | 320 pages | CQ Press
Named a top ten Editors’ Pick in the September 2016 edition of Choice Reviews

Inside Campaigns: Elections Through the Eyes of Political Professionals
offers readers a detailed, thoroughly researched examination of U.S. political campaigns.  Through the eyes of more than 100 campaign managers and political professionals, it takes a behind-the-scenes look at the ways campaigns are managed, the strategies that are employed, the roles played by both staff and the candidates, and all the ways campaigns affect election outcomes. The expert author team provides guidance drawn from actual campaign case studies and contributes their own data-backed assessment of the current state of modern political campaign management. They offer a trove of observations and war stories.  Interviewees include high-profile professionals such as David Axelrod, Ken Mehlman, James Carville, and Kevin Sheekey, as well as lesser-known political journeymen and women who manage America’s state and local campaigns. Democrats and Republicans are evenly represented, giving students a balanced, unique and valuable insight into how campaigns operate.
Chapter 1: Unafraid to Fail - The Craft and Science of Poltical Campaigns
A Tale of Two Managers

The Personal Side of Politics

Why Campaign Managers Do It

What Campaigns Do

Do Campaigns Matter?

Teaching Topics

Chapter 2: Political Math - Why Campaigns Matter
Debating Campaign "Effects"

What Does "Matter" Mean?

The Role of Fundamentals: From Demographics to Party ID

Partisan Composition of the Electorate

Share and Performance

The Case of Nevada

Ask Gore if the Margin Matters

Chapter 3: Political Historian and Data Scientist - Charting a Path to Victory through Information and Analysis
Tough Numbers in the Big Easy

Defining a Winning Coalition: Who Are Our Targets?

How Do We Reach Them?

What Do We Tell Them?

How Are We Doing?

What Are Our Opponents and Allies Doing?

The Secret Ballot Problem

Presidential and Congressional Campaigns: The Art and Science of Data Analysis

Targeting and Micro-Targeting: "Bells-and-Whistles" vs. "Old-Fashioned Grunt Work"

Focus Groups, Polls, and Other Forms of Information-Gathering

Determining Voter Blocs



Chapter 4: Enterpreneur and Chief Financial Officer - Launching the Campaign
Spending and Margins

The Money Advantage

How Money Matters (Decisions)

"The Nightmare of All Campaigns" (Fundraising)

Hiring the Right Team (Staff)


Chapter 5: Marketing Wizard - How Do We Reach Them?
The Paradox of Politics and Marketing in the Digital Age

Political Brand Management: Knowledge is Power

What are GRPs? Learning the Basic Language of Media

How Many GRPs Does a Campaign Need? Exploding the Conventional Wisdom of "1,000 GRPs-Per-Spot"

In the Internet Age, Television is Still King

The Media Mix: Beyond TV

Manager Profile - Katie Merrill: Managing in the California Big Leagues

Chapter 6: Script Writer and Stage Manager - Crafting the Campaign's Messages
What Do We Tell Voters?

How the Message Matters

Why Campaigns "Go Negative"

"A Hugging Contest?" Why Negative Ads Affect Election Margins

When Going Negative Backfires

Going Negative in a Primary

Responding to Negative Attacks


Chapter 7: Spinmeister and Policy Wonk - Navigating the Media Landscape
Defusing Bad Press

The Shifting Character of the Media Landscape

"Hand to Hand Combat"

The Frustrated Policy Wonk

Cell Phones and Earned Media

"The Blogs Will Pick It Up Immediately" (Speed)

Working the Refs (Credibility)

Earned Media: An Imperfect Tool

Chapter 8: Field General
Who Do We Need?

How Do We Reach Them?

The Two-Step Process: Deciding to Vote; and Voting for or Against a Candidate

"Old-Fashioned Grunt Work"

Losing and Winning on the Ground

Manager Profile - Reed Galen: Just Say No

Chapter 9: Strategy Enforcer and Team Builder - Keeping a Day-to-Day Focus on the Long-Term Path to Victory
James Carville: Losing Before Winning

Clinton-Gore 1992: "The Best Campaign Ever"

Keeping the Campaign Team on Strategy with Signage

Inheriting a Team: The Turnaround Manager

How Are We Doing?

Strategy Enforcer in the Age of Super-PACs ("What are They Doing?")

Team Builder

Managing Consultants

"The Right Kind of Culture"

Chapter 10: Candidate Caretaker and Confidant - Handling Details and Building Trust
Becoming Indispensable

The Buffer and the Concierge

Building Trust: "Jimmy Here's What We Need to Do"

Building the Relationship


Managing the Candidate's Family

Losing and Winning: When the Campaign Ends


"Inside Campaigns takes readers into the world of campaign managers. Powered by scores of interviews and surveys of political professionals, the book considers the purpose, potency, and poetry of modern political campaigns in the US.Written by a team with both a scholarly pedigree and a hand in applied politics, Inside Campaigns is a deeper, more systematic approach than seen in several other volumes that do little more than transcribe the comments of political professionals. Instead, the authors take readers on a carefully laid out guided tour of major campaign tasks, such as voter targeting and message strategy. Though the typical campaign text is stuffed with data and wrung free of life, Inside Campaigns includes the drama and intrigue that courses through the topic. Run the negative ad or not? Put money into afield staff, or shift resources elsewhere? These are decisions that can elect candidates and determine whether campaign professionals will work again. An invaluable guide for college students considering a career in campaign politics and a useful work for any campaigns class."

Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through professionals.

D. Niven, University of Cincinnati
September 2016 issue of CHOICE

“The strength of Inside Campaigns is its differentiation from most other books in this market.  Extensive interviews conducted by the authors with campaign managers results in an insider view that isn’t typically present in a book written by political scientists. Feltus, Goldstein, and Dallek are able to juxtapose the theories typically used by political scientists with the knowledge given by campaign managers, providing readers with a unique 360 degree perspective.”

Travis N. Ridout
Washington State University

“I am impressed not only by the purpose of Feltus, Goldstein, and Dallek’s text—to bring real-world perspectives to the study of an immensely important part of campaigns and elections—but also by their fascinating take on the debate over the degree to which campaigns matter.  Their argument is rational, powerful, and well documented, as is their distinction among structure, share, and persuasion in planning and executing campaigns.  Well done.”

Malcolm Cross
Tarleton State University

“Feltus, Goldstein, and Dallek offer a comprehensive text on the role of campaign managers in devising campaign strategy and carrying it through.  The use of testimony and statements from practitioners, both  well-known and less well-known, provides the book with an air of authenticity.  The integration of scholarship on the topic, with related anecdotes, case studies, and statements from actual campaign managers adds to the overall narrative and argument. Campaigns do matter, especially with the focus on the margins, and this is borne out in the text.”

Adam Silver
Emmanuel College

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

William J. Feltus IV

William J. Feltus is senior vice-president at National Media Research Planning and Placement LLC, an advertising and media agency in Alexandria, Virginia, where he manages political, corporate, and not-for-profit clients. Mr. Feltus is recognized as an innovator in the application of media research data to political and public affairs marketing. Providing polling, communications, and advertising services, he has worked for eight presidential campaigns and for gubernatorial, Senate and Congressional clients in forty-four states. Feltus has been a press secretary in the U.S. Senate, deputy campaign manager of President George H. W. Bush’s... More About Author

Kenneth M. Goldstein

Ken Goldstein is a professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco and founding Director of the USF in DC program. Goldstein earned his PhD at the University of Michigan and before joining the University of San Francisco, he was a professor of Political Science at University of Wisconsin-Madison. While at the University of Wisconsin, he won the Kellet Award for his career research accomplishments and the Chancellor’s Award for excellence in teaching. His publications on political advertising, voter turnout, survey methodology, presidential elections, and news coverage have appeared in top line political science journals and major... More About Author

Matthew J. Dallek

Matthew Dallek (Ph.D., Columbia University) is an assistant professor of political management in the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, where he teaches courses on political leadership, the presidency, and Washington’s political culture. He is the author of The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics (Oxford University Press, 2004) and the forthcoming Defenseless Under the Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security (Oxford University Press, 2016). His articles and reviews have appeared in many scholarly and popular... More About Author

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