Summary of The Candidate

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  • Comprehensive
  • Eye Opening
  • Background


Just in time for the 2012 US presidential election – and its inevitable postmortems – political scientist Samuel L. Popkin provides his take on past White House campaigners and explains why some succeeded while others failed. Popkin succinctly lays out the three major assignments that a presidential candidate must fulfill during this arduous campaign: Be one of the people, present a vision and run a well-managed campaign. A candidate who doesn’t measure up on all three counts, Popkin says, will never get the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (or perhaps win any other political race, so his advice applies, in part, beyond the US or the presidential campaign). The only blot on this entertaining read is the occasional misspelling or transposition of famous names – but Popkin’s observations are so engaging that you probably will forgive him. getAbstract thinks political junkies will find this a page-turner, but, thanks to Popkin’s conversational and accessible style, so will anyone who cares about the democratic process anywhere. Winston Churchill allegedly said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest.” But perhaps a different piece of Churchillian wisdom applies: “Politics are almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous.”

About the Author

Elections expert Samuel L. Popkin is a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego.



The Unexpected Winners and Losers

Conventional wisdom often holds that the US presidential candidate with the biggest bank account, the most allies and the most ardent followers will blaze an easy trail to the White House. Reality is different. Observers assumed New York governor Thomas Dewey would be a sure winner over President Harry S. Truman in 1948; 60 years later, in 2008, New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani and US senator Hillary Clinton were shoo-ins to win their parties’ respective nominations and duke it out for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But it didn’t pan out that way; these candidates made important strategic errors that undermined their campaigns.

Presidential candidates arrive at the podium in three incarnations: “Challengers” try to depose the opposite party’s chief executive, “incumbents” vie for second terms and “successors” try to maintain their party’s power. Politicians who are ambitious for the White House frequently emulate winning efforts, but they might find better guidance if they scrutinize losing races and understand which type of campaign – challenger, incumbent or successor – they must undertake.

As a presidential candidate, you must...

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    A. 8 years ago
    Inded I have not find difference between Politicy and bussines. Leaders have learned to move therselves into a political world also into a company.
    I really find this summary very atractive and applicable to my everyday life.