Electing the President, 2012

Electing the President, 2012: The Insiders' View

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 280
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Electing the President, 2012
    Book Description:

    President Barack Obama decisively won reelection to a second term, garnering the popular vote as well as 332 electoral votes to the challenger's 206, but the course of presidential campaigning never did run smooth. Despite a slowly rising stock market and falling unemployment rate, the economic recession provided the Romney campaign with rich opportunities for criticism of Obama's first term. Obama's team countered negative advertising with its own program to discredit Romney's platform, building on the microtargeting techniques from 2008. A surge in social media promotion and fact-checking changed the tenor of campaign reportage for better and for worse. On December 6, 2012, prominent members of President Obama's election staff (including David Axelrod, Joel Benenson, Stephanie Cutter, Anita Dunn, and Jim Margolis) met with notable members of the Romney campaign (including Eric Fehrnstrom, Kevin Madden, Beth Myers, Neil Newhouse, and Stuart Stevens) for a debriefing of this tumultuous election cycle. Each team made a formal presentation about how it prepared for and responded to the events of the election, describing the members' strategies and perceptions at different points of the campaign and interrogating the opposing party's team about its tactics. In this book, Kathleen Hall Jamieson provides an overview and an edited transcript of the all-day event, along with a timeline of election year milestones. A DVD featuring select video of the proceedings is included. Electing the President, 2012 offers a detailed look into the internal machinery of a presidential campaign and insight into the principles that drive outcomes in a democratic election.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0927-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    President Barack Obama’s 2012 victory over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was not a foregone conclusion. No incumbent since FDR in 1936 had retained the Oval Office with an unemployment rate as high as the one that dogged the Obama presidency. But with housing starts and the stock market up and a 7.8 percent unemployment rate undercutting the challenger’s earlier refrain that the country had experienced “43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent,” the country’s first African American to be elected president became the second Democrat since FDR to claim a second term. When the dust settled, the incumbent...

  4. 2012 Presidential Campaign Timeline
    (pp. 5-18)
  5. Chapter 1 Election Overview
    (pp. 19-47)

    Our first assumption when we were thinking through this campaign was that presidential elections are not a referendum. They’re a choice. They’re always a choice. More than any other race, people measure not just the views but the qualities of two candidates and make very sophisticated judgments about who they want to lead them. We’ll have a discussion later about this. One of the central struggles of the campaign was “Is it a referendum or is it a choice?” We knew that it would be a choice. We wanted to drive it that way as well. Obviously we weren’t running...

  6. Chapter 2 Campaigns and the Press
    (pp. 48-80)

    Thank you to the Annenberg [Public Policy] Center for taking a scholarly look at the recent campaign and creating and preserving this record. I’d also like to compliment and congratulate the Obama team for what they were able to accomplish.

    Of course, we went into this race knowing that we were going up against a well-organized, expert team of professionals. And they lived up to our high expectations. Standing here in front of them, I think I know what it felt like to surrender a sword at Appomattox (LAUGHTER) or maybe to be a Japanese soldier standing on the deck...

  7. Chapter 3 Looking Back, Looking Forward
    (pp. 81-95)

    One of the utilities of exercises like this is that we get to spend some time with our colleagues on the other side. Campaigns are a very ferocious process. Eric [Fehrnstrom] and I went hammer and tongs from time to time. Stephanie [Cutter] had her moments with both you guys [Eric and Kevin]. And you know, the tenor of our politics sometimes gets very raw.

    This is a great opportunity to address each other as professionals and as people who are in this process because we believe deeply. It’s clear that you felt as strongly about your candidate as we...

  8. Chapter 4 Debate Strategy and Effects
    (pp. 96-121)

    A central part of Mitt Romney’s debate success at the Denver debate was preparedness. Where was the campaign when the debates began? To put it in perspective you have to understand what the September race was like for the Romney campaign. We started August, the month before the Democratic Convention, in a pretty good place. Then the Democrats had their convention and got a nice bump. The Embassy was attacked in Benghazi and some of Mitt’s comments on the statements from the Embassy in Cairo were controversial. That was followed shortly by the release of the 47 percent video and...

  9. Chapter 5 Vice Presidential Selection
    (pp. 122-128)

    Joel Benenson:

    [On] the selection of Ryan, I always assumed that Governor Romney really wanted someone he had a high comfort level with and that you may or may not have assumed that we were going to make you wear the Republican Party Ryan budget positions anyway. And when I heard that—

    Beth Myers:

    We had already supported it.

    Joel Benenson:

    You had supported it. He’d said it was fabulous or marvelous, whatever the word was. Was there any consideration of trying to create distance from that position as you went into the fall? Because at the time you picked...

  10. Chapter 6 Advertising
    (pp. 129-171)

    It’s a lot more fun sitting on this side of the table than sitting on that. (LAUGHTER) We’ve been on that side as well. If it’s any consolation, you did give us a lot of sleepless nights along the way. Stuart will particularly understand, I think, sitting in those little studios at about 4:00 in the morning trying to get out an ad before the morning shows begin. I also would like to do one little piece of housekeeping. We actually formed within the campaign an Obama Media Team. We had a terrific group of people who came together to...

  11. Chapter 7 Polling
    (pp. 172-238)

    I’m going to walk you through how we saw the data throughout the campaign and then go through the exit poll data just a little bit. First let me walk through the assumptions we made in the polling.

    Number one, we thought this was going to be a wrong track election [with the] economy being the main issue. Obviously, the economy remained the issue, but wow, I could say this a number of times during this presentation. If you had told me ahead of time that we were looking at a 46 percent right direction election I would have been...

  12. Index
    (pp. 239-250)