(This article was originally published at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)
I’ve seen what John has posted on this so far and it looks very reasonable to me. The paradox is that “reasonable” and “scholarly” are not as exciting as “soap opera.”
Nonetheless, I recommend the book to those of you who are interested in politics. My advice: if you want a gripping, edge-of-the-seat story with larger-than-life characters and fly-on-the-wall dialogue, pick up a good novel. If you want to understand the election, pick up Sides and Vavreck. (Also read Red State Blue State for some historical background!) Ultimately, I think you’ll get more enjoyment from your favorite novel plus Sides/Vavreck than you would from reading some dramatic journalistic treatment of so-called pivotal moments during the campaign.
In the future (and, to some extent, even now), I hope and expect that journalistic treatments of elections will be informed by political science understanding. It should be possible to go back and forth between politics, personality, and policy. Personality matters—not because voters care about charisma etc., but because politics is not just about winning elections, it’s also about the one-on-one interactions needed, first to climb the greasy pole and, second, to make policy once you’re at the top.
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