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The Reasoning Voter

Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns

2d edition

The Reasoning Voter

Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns

2d edition
The Reasoning Voter is an insider’s look at campaigns, candidates, media, and voters that convincingly argues that voters make informed logical choices. Samuel L. Popkin analyzes three primary campaigns—Carter in 1976; Bush and Reagan in 1980; and Hart, Mondale, and Jackson in 1984—to arrive at a new model of the way voters sort through commercials and sound bites to choose a candidate. Drawing on insights from economics and cognitive psychology, he convincingly demonstrates that, as trivial as campaigns often appear, they provide voters with a surprising amount of information on a candidate’s views and skills. For all their shortcomings, campaigns do matter.

"Professor Popkin has brought V.O. Key’s contention that voters are rational into the media age. This book is a useful rebuttal to the cynical view that politics is a wholly contrived business, in which unscrupulous operatives manipulate the emotions of distrustful but gullible citizens. The reality, he shows, is both more complex and more hopeful than that."—David S. Broder, The Washington Post

332 pages | 26 tables | 6 x 9 | © 1991, 1994

Political Science: American Government and Politics, Political Behavior and Public Opinion


"If you’re preparing to run a presidential campaign, and only have time to read one book, make sure to read Sam Popkin’s The Reasoning Voter. If you have time to read two books, read The Reasoning Voter twice."

James Carville, Senior Stategist, Clinton/Gore '92

Table of Contents

1. The Reasoning Voter
2. Acquiring Data: The Process of Becoming Informed
3. Going without Data: Information Shortcuts
4. Going beyond the Data: Evidence and Inference in Voting
5. Attributable Benefits and Political Symbols
6. Expectations and Reassessments: Surges and Declines in Presidential Primaries
7. The Democratic Primaries of 1976: Watergate and the Rise of Jimmy Carter
8. The Republican Primaries of 1980: George Bush, Ronald Reagan, and the Legacy of ’76
9. The Fight to Redirect the Democratic Coalition in 1984
10. Conclusion

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