Electing the President, 2008

Electing the President, 2008: The Insiders' View

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 232
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    Electing the President, 2008
    Book Description:

    Just weeks after the November 2008 election, the Annenberg Public Policy Center's Kathleen Hall Jamieson and FactCheck.org's Brooks Jackson gathered top strategists and consultants for postelection analysis. Nicolle Wallace, Ambassador Mark Wallace, Jon Carson, Steve Schmidt, Bill McInturff, and Chris Mottola from the McCain-Palin camp met with David Plouffe, David Axelrod, Joel Benenson, Jim Margolis, and Anita Dunn, their counterparts from the Obama-Biden camp to share their insights into one of the most unusual presidential elections in American history. Representatives of the Democratic and Republican National Committees and the major independent expenditure groups did the same. In the resulting book, Electing the President, 2008, the consultants who managed the 2008 presidential campaign retrace the decisions that shaped the historic presidential election. Like Electing the President, 2000 and Electing the President, 2004, this work permits readers to eavesdrop on the first cross-campaign discussion that occurred in the nation after Election Day. These political experts assess the importance of new factors ranging from campaign spending to the performance of the press corps, from the effect of the Internet on news cycles to the influence of Tina Fey. Democratic and Republican insiders explain the strategies behind the debates and advertising, reveal what their internal polls showed, and share what they did well and poorly in their efforts to elect the forty-fourth president of the United States. In addition to insider commentary, Electing the President, 2008 presents political communications and strategy researchers with an election timeline and polling data from the National Annenberg Election Survey. This book offers a ringside seat to what may prove to be the most pivotal political contest for a long time to come. An included DVD features selected video of the proceedings.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0599-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-2)
    Kathleen Hall Jamieson

    The election of 2008 was historic, consequential, and the outcome clear. The Electoral College tally showed a decisive Obama win, 365 to 173 votes.¹ The popular vote spread was wide as well, 69,297,997 to 59,597,520. After years of hand wringing by good government advocates, 2008 produced the highest turnout in the United States in decades, up by more than a percent over 2004.

    The winner would face a country barreling toward a trillion-dollar deficit, a financial crisis unlike any since the Great Depression, a stock market below 9000, two long-lived and expensive wars, the symbol of the terrorist attack on...

  4. The National Annenberg Election Survey
    (pp. 3-12)
    Ken Winneg

    In existence since 2000, the National Annenberg Election Survey (NAES), a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, is the largest public opinion study of the American electorate conducted by a university. The 2008 NAES consisted of two modes of data collection: a nationally representative telephone survey employing a rolling cross-section sampling methodology (RCS) and a five-wave online panel survey.

    The 2008 NAES telephone survey began on December 17, 2007 and concluded on November 3, 2008. During this time, 57,967 adults in the United States were interviewed by telephone. The online survey was rolled out...

  5. Chapter 1 The Vice Presidential Campaign
    (pp. 13-33)

    Our selection of Governor Sarah Palin was like a whirlwind romance. It was the highest highs of the campaign for us, as well as some of the greatest challenges. What she faced from the media were some of the most wrenching news cycles for us as a campaign.

    I’ll start at her selection. We made history in the fact that the identity of John McCain’s running mate was the first secret the McCain campaign actually kept. I went back and looked at what was happening in the campaign at the time that we made the decision. A lot of people...

  6. Chapter 2 Campaign Management and Field Operations
    (pp. 34-54)

    I’d first say this to our friends in the McCain campaign. We went through something for two years that very few people can understand. It’s a small fraternity of people who go through the ups and lows in politics. We appreciated being on the battlefield with you.

    Our opponents had three extra months we would have liked to have had. We had a compressed five-month period to put together a general election. I’m going to start by talking about some of the big strategy assumptions we made, some of the tactics we employed, some of the bigger decisions we had...

  7. Chapter 3 Campaign Organization and Strategy
    (pp. 55-83)

    First I’d like to congratulate David and his entire team. It was a brilliant campaign. We look back with a lot of admiration for your accomplishment. Incredibly formidable. And unfortunate to be opposed to you.

    Before I talk about some of our strategic assumptions, I want to lay out a fundamental difference between the McCain and Obama campaigns. In July 2007, John McCain’s presidential effort was upside down and in a ditch. He was in last place in the polls. The campaign was dead broke. Most of the staff had been let go or resigned. His victory in the Republican...

  8. Chapter 4 The Role of Polling
    (pp. 84-107)

    We all need to remember that in July 2007 the McCain campaign was dead as dead can be. By August there were literally 28 staffers. I was asked to brief the field staff. Where there were about 1,000 people in the Barack Obama campaign, the McCain field staff in March was 50 people. Here is a survey we did in May 2007.

    This is a powerful chart. It was the chart that drove the rest of the race [in the primaries] but unfortunately not the chart used in the beginning. In the beginning there was an obsession with [the prospect...

  9. Chapter 5 Advertising
    (pp. 108-134)

    I’m speaking as part of the team that we called Foxhole Productions, which was the media arm of the McCain campaign. The team consisted of myself, Mike Hudome, Fred Davis, and Justin Germany, and, in addition, we had Mark McKinnon kibitzing from the side. We had an ad hoc group with James Farwell and a bunch of other Republican consultants who also gave their advice. Kyle Roberts was the media buyer for the campaign.

    I am going to give you an idea from my perspective of what we were trying to do and what we did well and what we...

  10. Chapter 6 The Campaign and the Press
    (pp. 135-150)

    The notion that John McCain changed vis-à-vis the media should be corrected. The media had that backward. John McCain was sad that the media had changed so drastically from 2000. He missed the media from 2000. The media in 2000 were a press corps that got on a bus and spent a day talking about an issue. They would usually have to say to him, “Senator McCain, we’d love to keep talking to you, but we’ve got to file.” They’d take the benefit of all that conversation and file.

    The media of 2008 would get on a bus leg in...

  11. Chapter 7 Political Party Panel
    (pp. 151-167)

    I’m here to talk a bit about hybrid ads. We first started doing hybrid ads in 2004 as a way to maximize our television dollars. In 2008, [hybrid ads] allowed Senator McCain and his campaign to essentially split the cost of advertising with the Republican National Committee. Again, they’re called 50–50s, which is exactly what it sounds like; we could split the costs of the spots 50 percent each. It allowed for significantly more television advertising. When you’re up against a campaign that had $746 million, you try to figure out everything [you can do to] maximize your television...

  12. Chapter 8 Democratic/Liberal Panel
    (pp. 168-195)

    I ran AFSCME’s independent expenditure program, which included not just presidential, but extensive issue and express advocacy in many states and congressional districts. The first rule for an independent expenditure is do no harm. That means do no harm to the organization you’re working for and do no harm to the campaign you’re trying to help.

    The second rule is to understand that you’re not the campaign. You are an assist person. You’re going to go in there to help fill a lane. So the first order of business was [identifying] the lanes that we needed to fill. In this...

  13. Chapter 9 Republican/Conservative Panel
    (pp. 196-216)

    Freedom’s Watch was formed last year. We’re a 501(c)(4) organization. We’ve been in existence about 20 months. You can basically divide Freedom’s Watch’s history into two halves. The first half was in 2007. We came out of the gate with a $15 million ad buy on Iraq. Specifically, we came out in support of the surge, trying to make the case to the public that the effort in Iraq was winnable, that the surge was having an impact and, that in effect, it was successful.

    We felt that in 2007, you could not have a political or policy discussion divorced...

  14. Index
    (pp. 217-224)